About 1,500 Argos employees were yesterday facing up to a major shake-up in the way the catalogue retailer organises its business.
The plans include replacing 500 managerial jobs with "service co-ordinators" while another 1,000 employees will see their working hours changed to cope with busy evening and weekend periods.
Argos, which employs 21,000 people at 604 stores, wants as many of the 500 sales managers to apply for the new roles, but admits that some will opt for redundancy.
It has begun a 90-day consultation period on the changes, which it expects will cost about £4 million.
The changes remove a layer of management within the stores and Argos said the moves were part of a drive to operate more efficiently, as well as provide better services to customers.
Managing director Sara Weller said "This is a practical measure to ensure that we are as flexible as possible in serving our customers."
Rhys Williams, a retail analyst at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, said the new role of service co-ordinator was "basically a demotion".
But he added: "We see this as a cost reduction and service enhancing move by Argos, which taking into consideration the current state of the retail market, as well as its future outlook, seems like a sensible strategy."
Retail union Usdaw is seeking urgent talks with Argos management.
"We need to have urgent face to face talks with senior Argos management to discuss the impact of significant changes to sales managers' duties and working hours for other staff"
Argos is owned by FTSE 100 Index company GUS, which also runs Homebase and has a stake in fashion chain Burberry