A major UK supermarket has announced it is cutting thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of stores, with staff in Ayrshire at risk.

Sainbury's announced 3,500 job cuts and the closure of 420 standalone Argos stores, which it bought in 2016.

The firm will also close delicatessen, fish and fresh meat counters in its stores, although it said it would open 150 more Argos in Sainsbury's outlets by 2024.

Irvine Times: Credit: Sainsbury'sCredit: Sainsbury's

In a statement, Sainsbury's said that the 120 standalone Argos stores that had not reopened since the first lockdown in March would remain shut permanently.

There are two standalone Argos stores in Ayrshire, one in Irvine and the other in Kilmarnock.

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Sainsbury's have stores in Saltcoats, Stewarton, Prestwick and Irvine.

Irvine Times: Sainsbury's SaltcoatsSainsbury's Saltcoats

The Saltcoats and Prestwick branches of the supermarket have Argos counters that are expected to stay open.

The firm's half-year results reveal a £137m loss it blamed on closures and changes in the market.

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Simon Roberts, Sainsbury's chief executive, said: "We are talking to colleagues today about where the changes we are announcing in Argos standalone stores and food counters impact their roles.

"We will work really hard to find alternative roles for as many of these colleagues as possible and expect to be able to offer alternative roles for the majority of impacted colleagues."

Irvine Times: Argos IrvineArgos Irvine

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is to enter into consultation meetings with Sainsbury’s/Argos management over their proposed restructuring.

Dave Gill, Usdaw National Officer, said: “Sainsbury’s/Argos has briefed us on their plans to restructure the business, which includes the proposed permanent closure of a number of Argos stores and counter services in Sainsbury’s supermarkets that were closed in March, at the beginning of the first lockdown.

"We will now enter into meaningful consultation to examine the proposals."