Co-op set to axe more jobs at its head office

The Co-operative Group's food business is to cut more jobs at its Manchester head office next month after warning of a financial hit from "some of its toughest trading conditions in recent history".

Following a review of the UK's fifth-biggest grocer, seven senior managers are leaving, including Kay Wheelton, head of commercial trading, and Helen Bridgett, who runs its commercial, strategy and planning. These changes are part of its move to a new operating model to drive efficiencies and remove duplication while lowering costs.

The Co-operative's food operation has warned of more head office job losses at the end of February, but not in stores. In an internal memo earlier this month, the Co-operative said, "cost reductions will unfortunately mean there will be a number of redundancies" although it did not provide a figure.

The Co-operative, which has more than 3,000 food shops, posted a 0.2 per cent fall in sales over the 13 weeks to 31 December.

In the memo, Sean Toal, the acting chief executive of food, said: "In common with other UK food retailers, we are continuing to face very extreme challenges in a market where customers are spending less. It is no exaggeration to say that our business is experiencing some of its toughest trading conditions in recent history and this is impacting on our financial performance."