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Tesco has announced it will close food counters in 90 of its stores as part of a wider cost-cutting plan that will affect 9,000 staff. The UK’s largest supermarket said its remaining fish, meat and deli counters in 700 stores will be run on a full-time or flexible basis.

It confirmed it will no longer offer a hot food service at its canteens and that head office staff will be cut. It said up to 9,000 workers will be impacted but half could be redeployed.

More than 10,000 jobs have been cut at Tesco since the current chief executive, Dave Lewis, took over in 2014. The UK’s biggest grocer is in the midst of trying to save £1.5bn as the competition between supermarkets intensifies.

Tesco said: “Not only are customers shopping in different ways, but we know that they have less time available to shop too – which means they are using our counters less frequently.

“We will be making changes to the counters in our large stores to ensure that we have the right offer for customers.”

Pauline Foulkes, national officer at the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), said: “Staff at Tesco are shocked and dismayed by the scale of yet another round of potential job losses, which clearly demonstrates the pressure retailers are under in the current very difficult and uncertain economic climate, as the cost cutting continues.

“This is devastating news for staff, who have played a crucial role in Tesco’s turnaround project, contributing to 12 successive quarters of growth, solid Christmas trading and over a billion pounds of profit.”

As well as reducing its counters, Tesco said that after completing a detailed review: “We’re talking to colleagues about changes in some of our head office teams, moving to a simpler and leaner structure, which will allow us to focus on supporting our customers.”

It also said that it made changes to the way it manages its stock which will mean “a significantly reduced workload, with fewer hours needed to complete the routines”.

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