In Brief

Tesco to reward lockdown temps with 16,000 permanent jobs

The supermarket giant has more than doubled online capacity since lockdown amid boom in demand

Tesco has announced plans to create 16,000 permanent jobs to support the supermarket chain’s online business following “exceptional growth” during lockdown. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, around 9% of Tesco’s sales were online, but this has now doubled to 16%. Online customer numbers have risen from around 600,000 at the start of the outbreak to nearly 1.5 million.

And the supermarket giant is predicting online sales of more than £5.5bn in 2020 - up from £3.3bn last year.

In late April, after Tesco became the first UK retailer to fulfil a million online grocery orders in a week, CEO Dave Lewis said in a statement that “we’ve built a grocery delivery business which is probably the biggest in the world, but we know we need to do more - and we will”.

The 16,000 new job roles are in addition to 4,000 permanent jobs already created by the supermarket giant since the start of the Covid crisis. The new positions will include 10,000 pickers to assemble customer orders and 3,000 delivery drivers, plus other roles in stores and distribution centres.

A majority of the permanent jobs will be filled by staff, also known as colleagues, who joined on a temporary basis during the lockdown, with remaining vacancies to be recruited externally.

Annoucing the jobs boom, Tesco UK and Ireland’s chief executive Jason Tarry said: “Since the start of the pandemic, our colleagues have helped us to more than double our online capacity, safely serving nearly 1.5 million customers every week and prioritising vulnerable customers to ensure they get the food they need. 

“These new roles will help us continue to meet online demand for the long term, and will create permanent employment opportunities for 16,000 people across the UK.”

A recent study on UK shopping habits by Waitrose suggests that the shift to online shopping will be permanent. The poll of 2,000 people across the UK found that 77% now do at least some of their grocery shopping online, compared with 61% a year ago.

Meanwhile, a report published last week by O2 said that 44% of the telecommunication company’s customers believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way they shop. 

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