Tesco provides permanent jobs to 16,000 employees hired during the Covid crisis

Tesco is to permanently employ 16,000 extra staff taken on during the pandemic to help support a surge in online grocery trade.

The roles include 10,000 pickers, who select and pack grocery orders for home delivery, and 3,000 drivers, as well as a variety of other roles in stores and distribution centres.

Tesco’s move comes after the electrical goods specialist AO.com, the DIY chain Kingfisher and the delivery firms DPD and Hermes hired thousands more workers to cope with the rise in home deliveries. However, the shift online has hit high streets hard, with Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Boots among the chains shutting stores and slashing jobs.

The UK’s biggest supermarket said it had already hired 4,000 other permanent staff since the start of the pandemic, during which it took on more than 20,000 temporary workers to help cope with higher demand and to cover for those forced to self-isolate.

The hiring comes as online groceries have risen to 16% of Tesco’s sales during the pandemic, up from about 9% at the beginning of the year. The supermarket is expecting online sales of £5.5bn this year, up from £3.3bn last year.

Tesco brought in 400 extra vans and changed shopping hours so more orders could be picked in stores to help expand its service to almost 1.5m customers a week online, up from about 600,000 at the start of the pandemic.

Jason Tarry, the head of Tesco in the UK and Ireland, 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.”

Alongside creating the permanent roles, Tesco said it planned to support the government’s Kickstart work placement scheme by offering places to 1,000 young people. More than 80 young people will join internship schemes in stores, distribution centres and offices next month. Almost 50 students also joined Tesco’s summer internship programme this year, which was delivered virtually.