By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) - British supermarket group Morrisons <MRW.L> plans to cut 3,000 management jobs as part of a workforce restructuring that will create 7,000 frontline jobs in its stores, it said on Thursday.
All of the company's 492 UK stores will retain an overall manager but departmental roles - such as beers, wines and spirits managers - will be axed and managerial responsibilities for positions lost will be taken on by fewer managers with a broader remit.
"Whilst there will be a short period of uncertainty for some managers affected by these proposals, we will be supporting them through this process and there are jobs available for everybody who wants to continue to work at Morrisons," said retail director David Lepley.
Morrisons, Britain's No.4 supermarkets chain by market share, currently has a total workforce of a little more than 97,000.
Along with the rest of Britain's traditional big four grocers - market leader Tesco <TSCO.L>, Sainsbury's <SBRY.L> and Asda <WMT.N> - Morrisons is chasing efficiency and cost savings to better compete with German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl, which are winning market through aggressive expansion.
Tesco cut 4,500 jobs last summer and Sainsbury's said on Tuesday that it is cutting "hundreds" of management roles.
Morrisons said the jobs created would include skilled butchers, bakers, fishmongers and other fresh food specialists, in addition to store assistants on the shop floor.
The company said the restructuring is designed to put more frontline staff in stores to better serve customers, rather than a pure cost-cutting exercise.
Morrisons <MRW.L> was the big loser as Britain's leading food retailers endured their worst Christmas since 2014, hurt by intense competition and sustained consumer uncertainty which deterred shoppers from splashing out.
Shares in Morrisons were down 1% at 1325 GMT, extending losses over the past year to 21%.
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Sarah Young and David Goodman)