Department store group John Lewis is to axe 325 jobs in store as the retailer looks to cut costs and rebalance the business to support its rapid online growth.

The retailer will replace the 10 department managers who look after sections including furnishings and beauty with one or two more senior managers.

The cuts will be made at 28 of its 40 stores as part of its Retail Revolution plan and is largely due to the fact that most of the retailer’s sales growth is online, The Guardian reported.

The move is likely to shock observers as John Lewis was one of the strongest performers at Christmas and has a strong reputation for responsible employment of its partners, who share in an annual bonus.

Last month, revealed sister company Waitrose is in the process of restructuring its retail services division to support online growth with 200 positions under review.

The job losses at John Lewis are thought to be the largest since 2009 when 700 in-store call centre employees were made redundant.

The department managers, who are understood to earn between £35,000 and £45,000, have been given four weeks to put forward their views before a 90-day consultation in March.

John Lewis said: “As part of our plans for future growth, we are proposing to streamline management structures in some of our established shops.

“There will be opportunities for redeployment in new roles created as part of this process or in new shops due to open over the next 18 months.

“What we are doing is anticipating how the retail market is changing and ensuring our shop model is competitive for the long term. Otherwise, we will end up in a position that some of our competitors are reflecting.”