Tesco drops 24-hour trading at some stores

Shoppers arrive at a Tesco superstore in Altrincham, northern England February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's biggest supermarket group Tesco said it would reduce opening hours at some of its 24-hour stores, as part of plans to adapt to the shift in customers' shopping habits.

The company, which began operating 24-hour stores 20 years ago, said 76 out of its 400 24-hour shops would be affected by the change. They will now close at midnight and reopen at 0600.

These efforts, part of Chief Executive Dave Lewis' redesign of Tesco's operations, could have a longer lasting impact on the revival of the supermarket group after several years in turmoil.

Profit, sales and asset values at Tesco have been hit by shifts in shopping habits and the rise of discounters Aldi [ALDIEI.UL] and Lidl [LIDUK.UL].

When Lewis joined in September 2014, poor replenishment of stock and product availability were major issues for the grocer.

However, the supermarket in January reported Christmas sales at UK stores open over a year rose 1.3 percent, well ahead of analysts' forecasts of a fall of 1-3 percent.

The reduction in opening hours would free up staff to replenish more products on the shelves overnight, Tesco said, resulting in more item availability and stores looking better.

"With the growth of online grocery shopping, these stores saw very few customers during the night," said Tony Hoggett, Tesco's Retail Director in a statement.

"We'll continue to make changes in store in ways that will make shopping at Tesco a better experience for our customers, at the times they want to shop."

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by David Evans)