Supermarkets create 16,500 roles to cope with outbreak

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

Three major UK supermarkets became the latest to announce new jobs, with 16,500 positions, including 4,000 permanent roles, made available to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Supermarket Lidl has said it wants to recruit 2,500 workers to start immediately in stores to help cope with the surge in demand due to the crisis.

Bosses said the new positions will be four-week contracts, helping to restock shelves and assist staff.

The move comes as Asda also revealed plans to hire 5,000 temporary workers and is working alongside 20 national businesses who are being forced to let go of staff, to ensure those workers can remain employed.

And Aldi said it needs 9,000 new workers, whilst announcing further restrictions on products, including nappies and toilet roll reduced to two items per customer.

At Lidl, bosses said they were particularly keen to hear from workers who has lost their job as a result of businesses shutting down over Covid-19, with pay of £9.30 an hour for staff outside London, or £10.75 in the capital.

Lidl has also been hit by panic buying in some categories (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

The move follows similar announcements from Co-op and Morrisons that they are vastly expanding their workforce to cope with the extra demand of families in self-isolation.

Lidl, which has 800 stores across the country, said: “The new hires will be responsible for working together to keep the store clean, tidy and the shelves well stocked so that customers can get the products they need. Shifts could include mornings, evenings and weekends.”

Christian Hartnagel, chief executive of Lidl GB, said: “Our store colleagues are doing an incredible job at keeping our shelves stocked, and serving communities during an extremely challenging period.

“Temporarily expanding our teams is one way we can help support our colleagues and customers, whilst providing work to those that have had their employment affected by the current situation.”

Office-based colleagues will also be working from home, and the company will introduce “flexible options including sick pay, holiday pay, advanced holiday pay and mobile working where applicable”.

At Asda, chief executive Roger Burnley said: “Never in my 30 years in retail have I ever felt so keenly the role played by supermarkets in our communities.”

He added: “During these difficult times everyone has to work together to help people most affected by Covid-19, and Asda is pleased to play its part.

“That is why today (Friday) we have committed to hiring more than 5,000 employees who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and have been left with deep concerns about their household budgets.”

Earlier in the week, Asda announced it will be paying small suppliers immediately, to help keep their businesses operating, and provide a rent-free quarter to 250 small business tenants based in the grocer’s larger stores.

At Aldi, bosses said they need roles to fill in every store and distribution centre, adding 4,000 of the 9,000 jobs created will be permanent positions.

But to cope with increased demand, the company also said all nappies and paper products, like toilet and kitchen roll, will be cut to two items per customer.

All other products will remain restricted to four items per customer, with the exception of some non-food goods, Easter products and flowers.