Tesco employees are to share £144.4m from maturing Save As You Earn reward schemes.

More than 55,000 employees that have saved between £5 and £50 for the last 3-5 years are expected to benefit, with the top 9,000 savers who contributed the maximum £50 every month for the past five years – a total of £3,000 – receiving more than £6,000.

Tesco said the “strong return” reflects that “even in difficult market conditions, Tesco’s share price has remained resilient”.

The scheme, which Tesco said encourages its staff to save for the future, attracted 77,000 savers last year – 8,000 more than the previous year. All will receive a pay out, or have the opportunity to retain their shares, when the schemes mature in 2012 and 2015.

Tesco retail director David Potts said: “Tesco’s Save As You Earn scheme has really delivered for thousands of employees this year. With reports suggesting that 2010 could be another year of stretching personal budgets for many people, today’s returns will be a very welcome boost and are well deserved for the continued dedication and hard work of our colleagues.”