Tesco has this week confirmed that up to 9,000 staff jobs could be axed as the company closes fresh food counters and downsizes operations at its head office.

The retailer controls more than a quarter of the UK’s grocery market and employs more than 300,000 employees in the UK across 3,400 stores.

Jason Tarry, the chief executive of Tesco’s UK and Irish business, explained that the retail market remained challenging and Tesco needed to adapt to remain competitive:

“We’re making changes to our UK stores and head office to simplify what we do and how we do it, so we’re better able to meet the needs of our customers.  This will impact some of our colleagues and our commitment is to minimise this as much as possible and support our colleagues throughout.”

Pauline Foulkes, the national officer for the Usdaw union, which represents thousands of Tesco staff, 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 £1bn of profit.”

Lorna Davidson, CEO of short-term recruitment specialist, RedWigWam added:

“This is yet more sad news for retail – and of course a worrying time for those who work in the industry.  From a consumer point of view, the cuts will affect the availability and visibility of products for consumers and therefore the overall shopping experience.

“It’s time for us to question how we consider employment here in the UK- workers can now look at a portfolio approach, so all their income isn’t tied up with one hirer.  Flexible working allows them to spread their risk by working multiple jobs but ensures they still have all the benefits of being employed.

“Flexibility and versatility should not be confused with a lowering of standards, in situations such as this, when staff are left feeling uncertain and in the dark about what’s going on, having multiple jobs lessens the worry and therefore reduces backlash for the employer. It also means that employers don’t have to employ full time staff and can just hire workers as and when they are needed.”

Lorna continues:

RedWigWam is committed to providing hirers with workers who are happy, proactive, dedicated and incentivised to perform to their full potential. They do this by removing administrative tasks from hirers by employing workers directly, so the issues of payroll, National Insurance and covering holiday pay are taken care of by Red Wigwam.