Just days after news broke that Tesco planned to axe many of its fresh food counters, Morrisons has announced investment in more than 500 butchery, bakery and fishmongery apprentices.

The retailer has said it will take on the apprentices over the next 12 months, stating many would be trained in what it described as ”traditional craft skills”.

Morrisons said bakers would be “taught how to make bread in the traditional way – from flour and water”, adding it was aiming to preserve skills that otherwise might be lost from the high street.

The skills will be used on Morrisons’ Market Street counters, where food is made and prepared fresh for customers.

“This investment in craft skills is so important because our customers want food that is made fresh each day,” said Morrisons people director Clare Grainger.

“Many want to buy a particular joint, or to vary the slices of meat from the deli, have fat-trimmed, bones removed, or advice on how to cook and prepare food. By ensuring our foodmakers are qualified experts, we can serve our customers better and provide products and advice that our customers enjoy.”

 The retailer said apprentices would end up with a qualification, adding that the investment would ensure apprentices were given the time off to complete their training, and pay for travel and accommodation, as well as receiving on-the-job coaching.

Earlier this week, news leaked that Tesco would be reducing its number of fresh food counters as part of cost-cutting staff reduction measures.

It was also claimed in some reports that Tesco would be switching from using fresh dough in its in-store bakeries to frozen, although the retailer has since said its does not plan to make “any significant changes to bakeries this year”.