British supermarket group Sainsbury's has said that up to 3,500 jobs are at risk in a restructuring that will see it close 420 standalone Argos stores and shut down all in-store meat, fish and deli counters.
Sainsbury's said it aimed to find alternative roles for as many impacted employees as possible, pointing out it had hired 52,000 since March.
The group reported a loss before tax of £137 million for the 28 weeks to September 19, reflecting £438 million of one-off costs associated with the Argos closures and other strategic changes introduced by Simon Roberts, who succeeded Mike Coupe as chief executive in June.
He plans to refocus on Sainsbury's core food business, lowering prices, accelerating food innovation and growing online grocery services.
Total retail sales in the half-year period were up 7.1%, with like-for-like sales up 6.9%. Grocery sales were up 8.2%, the retailer said.
Roberts also wants to increase the rate of new convenience store and neighbourhood hub openings over the next three years.
"We will put food back at the heart of Sainsbury's," he said.
"Our other brands - Argos, Habitat, Tu, Nectar and Sainsbury's Bank - must deliver for their customers and for our shareholders in their own right."
Elsewhere, Sainsbury's said on Wednesday its veteran commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks will leave the British supermarket group as part of a revamp of its leadership team.
Rhian Bartlett has been promoted to food commercial director and Mike Luck promoted to general merchandise and clothing commercial director.
Bartlett, is currently the director of fresh food, and Luck is currently director of business development.
Both will join the operating board of Britain's second largest supermarket group when they start their new roles on Thursday.
Mills-Hicks, who has been at Sainsbury's 17 years, will step down from his executive role in January and support Roberts in an advisory role until June.