ALMOST 700 jobs are at risk at Morrisons as the West Yorkshire-based supermarket looks to cut costs after a fall in annual profits.
The UK’s fourth biggest supermarket is rolling out new machines to replace manual cash-counting in its back offices and has started a four-week consultation with 689 cash office managers and supervisors across its 490 stores, many of them in Yorkshire.
It is understood each store will lose either one or two members of staff.
Unions said they were hopeful that staff would be found alternative roles.
The Bradford-based chain is under pressure to cut costs after 2012 profits fell seven per cent to £879m.
The latest job cuts follow its decision to axe 165 roles at its Bradford headquarters six months ago by outsourcing financial transaction processing to an Indian firm.
The company said: “The introduction of new technology is an ongoing programme to ensure that Morrisons continues to improve its competitiveness.
“The new technology will simplify the operation and mean that cash can be automatically counted.”
Morrisons has been losing market share in recent weeks, with Kantar figures showing its slice of the grocery market slid to 11.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to March 17, down from 12.3 per cent a year earlier.
It blamed sliding sales over the key Christmas period on weak advertising of promotions and tough competition.
Its fledgling convenience store operation and lack of online sales have also left it trailing rivals. The retailer plans to rectify this by accelerating the roll-out of its M Local smaller store format to 100 sites by the end of the year and launching an online food offer by January next year in a bid to take a share of the online grocery market which was worth £6.5bn last year.
As part of the internet push, it is in talks with internet grocer Ocado, the online partner of rival Waitrose, about an agreement to share its operating knowledge.
Morrisons employs around 131,000 staff. Shares in the grocer were 2p lower at 277.3p.
A spokesman for trade union Usdaw said: “Usdaw is in consultations with Morrisons and the Union is hopeful that all staff who want to remain with the company will be found alternative roles.”
In February Morrisons said it was buying 49 Blockbuster stores to use for its M Local small stores which is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
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