Tesco recruits 45,000 UK staff in 2 weeks to cope with lockdown demand

New staff include drivers hired to meet soaring demand for home deliveries. (Twitter pic/lenslord)

LONDON: Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco said Tuesday that it recruited over 45,000 staff in the past two weeks as the coronavirus outbreak sparked a stockpiling surge while many supermarket workers fell ill.

In an earnings update, Tesco said costs were forecast to increase by between £650 million and £925 million on “significant cost increases in payroll, distribution and store expenses”.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said “Covid-19 has shown how critical the food supply chain is to the UK” but he noted that “initial panic buying has subsided and service levels are returning to normal”.

Tesco said that “more than 45,000 new colleagues” joined since March 20, including drivers meeting soaring demand for home deliveries.

“In the first few weeks of the crisis, significant panic buying… cleared the supply chain of certain items,” it said.

“The size and nature of our workforce means we have experienced a significant absence of colleagues,” it added.