China Resources Enterprise (CRE), the Hong Kong-listed supermarket operator which is controlled by China's foreign ministry, is to lay off up to 3,000 staff at its supermarket unit this year in a bid to cut costs.

Executive director Francis Kwong said the job cuts, together with other "operational savings", will help save 50m yuan (US$6m), reported the Standard.

Last year the company bought supermarket chain Suguo Supermarket and mainland hypermarket chain China Vanguard Super Department. The job cuts, which will apply to Vanguard, are a result of the overlap that resulted from the acquisitions.

CRE operates 456 supermarkets – 379 in China and 77 in Hong Kong – and employed 18,000 staff prior to the job cuts.