Almost 700 staff at Morrisons have found their jobs at risk after the UK grocer opted to introduce new cash-handling technology into its stores.

The grocer said today (10 April) cash-counting machines are being installed in its 490 stores as part of an programme to ensure it “continues to improve its competitiveness”. The technology will mean cash can be automatically counted.

As a result, the UK’s fourth largest supermarket has begun a four-week consultation with 689 cash office managers and supervisors about the removal of in-store positions. A spokesperson declined to comment on whether employees will be redeployed elsewhere within the business.

“Morrisons will support its colleagues throughout this consultation process,” the retailer said.

The move comes just six months after 165 jobs were scrapped at the group’s Bradford headquarters when plans were introduced to outsource the management of its financial transaction processing services to Indian firm Wipro.

The job cuts come at a challenging time for Morrisons, which suffered a fall in full-year profit and underlying sales last month. The Bradford-based grocer’s net profit was down 6% to GBP647m (US$966m) as it admitted it had struggled to grow in a difficult consumer market.

Morrisons also saw its share of the UK retail market fall to 11.7% in March, compared with 12.3% at the same time last year, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel.