Tesco recruits 35,000 workers to get through COVID-19 crisis

People queue outside of a supermarket before it opens, as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, in London, Britain, March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Tesco said on Tuesday it had recruited 35,000 additional workers in the last 10 days to help get it through the COVID-19 emergency, which has triggered a dramatic increase in demand for groceries.

The supermarket group is the country’s largest private sector employer with around 340,000 workers in the United Kingdom and Ireland and nearly 3,800 stores.

The new workers, including in-store shelf stackers, pickers for online deliveries and drivers, will help fill a gap left by those absent due to sickness or self-isolation.

In a letter to customers Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis said that after a week of national lockdown most panic buying by shoppers had eased.

He said in fresh food, stock levels had returned to almost normal levels, with plenty of fruit and vegetables available, while in packaged groceries the recovery would take a few more days.

Lewis also said Tesco was donating £30 million to community organisations under pressure from the crisis.

Separately on Tuesday industry data showed UK grocery sales leapt more than a fifth to a record £10.8 billion in the four weeks to March 22, as Britons stocked up on everything from pasta to pet food ahead of the lockdown.