Sainsbury’s has unveiled plans to restructure its store training teams, leaving the future of almost 600 staff hanging in the balance.

The supermarket giant currently employs around 870 store trainers – one for each of its larger supermarkets – but has revealed proposals to create 280 “more senior” roles.

The new learning and development managers would each oversee “a handful” of stores.

Sainsbury’s said all store trainers would be invited to apply for the new roles and added it would seek to redeploy affected colleagues “where possible.”

A 45-day consultation was launched this morning with affected staff.

It comes less than a year after the grocer axed around 800 jobs amid a reshuffle of its in-store staffing structure.

As previously reported, Sainsbury’s launched a review of department and deputy manager positions as part of wider plans to make £500m of savings across a three-year period.

‘Severely disappointed’

But workers union Unite has hit out at Sainsbury’s latest plans, which were revealed just weeks after it lodged a £1.4bn bid to acquire Argos-owner Home Retail Group.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We currently employ 870 store trainers. We’re now creating around 280 new learning and development manager positions and all affected colleagues will have the opportunity to apply for these more senior roles.

“We will also look to redeploy affected colleagues where possible.”

Unite, which has around 14,000 members employed by Sainsbury’s, said it was “severely disappointed” by the move, but acknowledged that the retailer has a “good record” of redeploying staff.

The union added it would be “campaigning hard to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies” among store trainers and those working night shifts.

Unite national officer for food and drink Julia Long said: “This is very bad news for those dedicated workers affected by the planned job losses and Unite will be giving our members maximum support at this difficult time.

“We are severely disappointed as Sainsbury’s seems to have deep pockets when it wants, as it has just forked out £1.4bn to purchase the Home Retail Group.

“We appreciate that Sainsbury’s has a good record of redeployment of staff in these situations and we will be exploring every avenue to ensure continuing employment for our members.”