Seven senior managers are to leave The Co-operative as the economic downturn hits one of the UK’s largest businesses.

The grocer has conducted a review of its food business’ structure and is “removing duplication” at its head office in Manchester as part of a new operating model.

The details of those departing will be revealed in an announcement “towards the end of February” with the economic environment cited as the reason for scaling back. The retailer stressed that no consumer-facing jobs would be lost.

Head of commercial trading Kay Wheelton and Helen Bridgett, who runs its commercial, strategy and planning are believed to be among those to leave.

A Co-operative Group spokeswoman said: “Our food business is continuing to modernise and change – putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. Following an in-depth review across the food business, a new operating model has been announced.

“It is designed to create a better business for our customers at the same time as reducing costs by eliminating duplication and improving efficiencies.”

She added: “We are currently finalising the proposed new structures in each of the function areas and these will be announced towards the end of February.”