14/02/2013 06:18 GMT | Updated 14/02/2013 06:18 GMT

John Lewis Announces 325 Redundancies, Surprise Move From One Of The High Street's Leaders

John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store, is culling 325 managerial positions, despite strong sales growth in 2012.

There are four levels of management at John Lewis's stores - a managing director, a steering group, department managers and section managers. The job cuts are understood to affect the third level of management, and will open up roles at the steering group level.

The news has come as a surprise to the retail sector, where the department store giant has shone as one of the few bright stars in a dismal economic climate.

Fashion chain Republic announced it had called the administrators in on Wednesday, putting 2,500 jobs at risk, and Blockbuster revealed it would close another 164 stores, bringing its jobs at risk total to 2,300.

Last November, John Lewis took on 80 apprentices, and in January 2013 it published impressive Christmas figures, with sales for the five weeks to 29 December 2012 totalling £684.8m, up 14.8% compared with 2011.