More than 2,500 managers at Morrisons 500 supermarkets are facing redundancy as the beleaguered Bradford chain looks to simplify its retail management structure.
The group has started discussions with staff and their representatives about changes aimed at taking out as many as seven layers of in-store management.
The company says the simpler management structure will boost customer service.
Dalton Philips, chief executive, said: “This is the right time to modernise the way our stores are managed.
"These changes will improve our focus on customers and lead to simpler, smarter ways of working. We know that moving to the new management structure will mean uncertainty for our colleagues and we will be supporting them through the process.”
Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer representing Morrison’s workers, said: ‘The next few weeks will be a worrying time for our members in Morrison’s and we will do everything possible to support them."
Morrisons stressed it would try to safeguard as many jobs as possible by redeploying affected staff in its expanding M local convenience stores where 1,000 jobs will be created and at new supermarkets where another 3,000 jobs will be added.
It has started a 45-day consultation period during which it will examine the detailed business case for the planned changes
These are the latest stage of Morrisons modernisation programme, which has seen it renew its IT systems, automate cashing up at the end of each trading day. and starting an internet food shopping operation.
Morrisons said the move would modernise the way stores are managed with the aim of reducing in-store management tiers, simplifying responsibilities and improving customer service.
Some Morrisons stores have seven tiers between the shop floor and the store manager.
It said new smarter systems would make stores simpler to manage and easier to replenish with stock .
The new management structure had been trialled and Morrisons said it had led to stronger performance and staff appreciated the clearer lines of responsibility, with roles better reflecting their work.
Customer satisfaction was also strengthened because more staff were in roles where they could engage with customers.
Mr Philips added: "We know that moving to the new management structure will mean uncertainty for our colleagues and we will be supporting them through the process.
"Implementing the new store structure would bring together department managers and supervisor positions into a single and smaller tier of team managers.
"From this group Morrisons is proposing to promote 1,000 into new duty manager roles to strengthen the senior management team in each store. Hours would also be re-invested in customer-facing jobs on the shop floor.
News of the planned restructure follows a stormy annual meeting at which Sir Ken Morrison, son of the company's founder William Morrison and a major shareholder, lambasted the store chain's top management for their strategy after the group slumped to a £176 million loss in 2013.