Sainsbury’s employees will share a £26.5m payout as two of the grocer’s ‘save as you earn’ schemes matured.

Over 11,000 employees will take a cut of the money, with the biggest savers earning £3,000 each.

Share prices reached £2.97 as the three-year and five-year Sharesave schemes matured and were exercised, with savers receving a 29% increase on their original savings.

Over the last six years the value of the shares is over £139m.

Sainsbury’s customer service and colleague director Gwyn Burr said: “This is great news for thousands of our colleagues, providing an extra reward for the vital role they play in delivering fantastic service to customers and driving our success.”

The schemes allow staff who have been working at Sainsburys for at least three months to save between £5 and £250 each month.

At the end of the term a tax free bonus is added and colleagues have the option to buy Sainbury’s shares at a 20% discount rate or take the tax free bonus as cash.

Almost 26,000 staff are signed up to the schemes across 63,000 Sharesave contracts.