Employees of The Co-Op could face unwelcome news later today as the group prepares to announce layoffs

Employees of The Co-Op could face unwelcome news later today as the group prepares to announce layoffs

UK supermarket operator The Co-operative Group is preparing to inform its employees of a wave of redundancies, just-food understands.

The firm plans to detail the scale and scope of the lay-offs when it meets with employees later today (23 January). However, a spokesperson for The Co-op told just-food this morning that the group was unable to comment at this time.

The move comes as the supermarket-to-finance co-operative retailer looks to improve efficiencies in the face of tough trading conditions.

Over the past year, The Co-op has struggled to reverse declining sales and profits. In the first-half to 2 July, food sales fell 4.6%, resulting in a 21% decrease in underlying profits from its food stores. The company was, however, able to stem the tide somewhat during the third quarter to 31 December, with like-for-like food sales declining a more modest 0.2%.

In an attempt to improve profitability at its food business, The Co-op revealed that it is restructuring its food operations with the development of a "new operating model". At the end of last month, it was announced that seven high-ranking managers were exiting The Co-op's food unit as part of this restructuring initiative.

At that time, the Co-op told just-food that no "consumer facing" positions were involved in the review and it is believed that today's job losses will hit back-office staff, including HR and IT support functions.