Tesco unveils 16,000 jobs as online food sales surge

Tesco Delivery Driver Paul Bradbury leaves work after he completes his delivery round, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, May 25, 2020. — Reuters pic
Tesco Delivery Driver Paul Bradbury leaves work after he completes his delivery round, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, May 25, 2020. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Aug 24 — Tesco will create 16,000 permanent UK jobs to meet a coronavirus-fuelled surge in online grocery demand, the supermarket giant said today in a boost for the country’s embattled retail sector.

Britain’s biggest retailer added in a statement that it expects “the majority” of jobs to be filled by temporary staff drafted in during the pandemic to cope with soaring home food deliveries amid the country’s lockdown.

“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,” said Jason Tarry, chief executive for Tesco UK and Ireland.

“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,” he added in a statement.

The new permanent positions are in addition to around 4,000 full-time jobs created by Tesco during the pandemic.

Some 47,000 temporary staff joined Tesco at the peak of the coronavirus, most of whom have reached the end of their contracts.

Pre-pandemic, online sales at Tesco accounted for about nine per cent of total revenue.

That has jumped to more than 16 per cent, with Tesco expecting online sales this year to reach more than £5.5 billion.

Today’s update comes after major UK companies announced thousands of job cuts in recent weeks, notably across the aviation, energy and retail sectors, owing to Covid-19 fallout.

Britain’s economy shrank by one fifth in the second quarter, more than any European neighbour, as the lockdown plunged the country into its deepest recession on record.

In October, the UK government is to end a furlough scheme that has been paying up to 80 per cent of wages for around ten million workers during the pandemic.

Analysts said this would result in soaring unemployment across Britain.

Travel sector warning

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) warned today that more than 90,000 travel jobs have been lost or remain under threat owing to coronavirus fallout.

Far fewer Britons are heading abroad, particularly after the UK government re-imposed quarantine on travellers returning from nations including Austria, Croatia, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

“Travel desperately needs the government in its next review to provide tailored support or tens of thousands more jobs will be lost,” said ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer.

The gloomy survey came after student specialist holiday firm STA Travel UK collapsed on Friday.

Among British retailers hit hard by virus fallout is Marks and Spencer, which last week said it was axing 7,000 jobs as wary customers steer clear of its stores, which mainly sell clothes and food. — AFP

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