Bakery jobs are among almost 2,500 that could be lost at Asda as part of proposals by the retailer.

Nearly 2,500 workers in five separate areas of the business including combined back office, George desks, petrol, hosting as well as bakery have been issued with potential redundancy notices – a move union GMB describes as a “hammer blow”.

As many as 359 members of staff with bakery roles could face redundancy as early as February 2019 after the retailer proposed to reduce the number of bakery hours and re-rota.

An Asda spokesman said the move was necessary in a “competitive retail market, where customers rightly expect great value and ease of service”.

“We must always look at how we can work more quickly and efficiently for them – and inevitably, that means we need to consider changing the roles we need our colleagues to do or the hours needed in particular parts of our stores,” he said.

“We believe the proposed changes we are consulting on would allow us to do a better job for our customers. We also recognise that discussions about potential change aren’t easy. If the decision is taken to implement the proposed changes we would work with our colleagues to look at the potential impact of these proposals on them.”

Gary Carter, GMB national officer described the timing of the announcement, in the run up to Christmas, as “doubly appalling.”

"ASDA is performing well and is highly profitable because of the hard work of our members, who are the backbone of the company,” he said.

"These cuts make no sense whatsoever – slashing our members jobs would hurt the service Asda customers receive. GMB will fight tooth and nail for every single job.”

He added that the news will “not put anyone’s mind at rest” particularly given the speculation surrounding the proposed merger with Sainsbury’s.

In August, the Competition and Markets Authority launched a formal investigation into plans for the proposed merger between the two retail giants.