The Co-operative Group is to cut 600 jobs at its head office in Manchester over the next two years as part of a drive to lower costs and improve decision making.
The company, which reported a drop in both sales and profits in 2004, said the cuts were part of a restructuring plan aimed at saving more than £50 million a year.
Chief executive Martin Beaumont said: "Over the years, the group has evolved into a conglomerate of individual businesses, often with their own significant support structures and overheads, each failing to fully exploit the combined strengths of the group.
"At head office this autonomy has sometimes resulted in the duplication of management effort, leading to inefficiency, higher costs and missed opportunities. While we have made some progress in working more closely as a group, our recent results clearly show we now need to move much faster."
The Co-Operative Group's profit fell to £243.7 million in 2004 from £327.3 million in 2003, while sales slipped to £7.8 billion from £8.1 billion.