The Co-operative Group is to lay off 872 Somerfield staff with the closure of its head office in Bristol by next year.

The Co-op, which had always planned to close the Somerfield head office, has taken on just 150 out of more than 1,000 staff, following its acquisition of the grocer last year.

Of the original 1,022 headcount in Bristol, 613 Somerfield staff have already left. Most of the remaining 259 staff who are still working will have left by Christmas, although 60 will remain until June 2011 to support the handover of systems.

Property agents started marketing the head office building last week.

The Co-op told The Independent that the process had been conducted in “full consultation with the unions concerned”. A spokesman said consultations started in June 2009 and some of the head office staff found other jobs without waiting to see if there was a job with the enlarged group, often because they did not want to relocate to Manchester.

The spokesman added: “We have been utterly transparent from the outset regarding the need to make the most of synergies and implement a cost-effective structure for the enlarged business, the fact that we would close the Somerfield HQ, and that while we would try our best to accommodate as many people as possible, it was never going to be possible to take everyone.”

The move follows the revelation that the Co-op’s integration of Somerfield is proving difficult, with sales well below expectations.