Britain’s Tesco recruits 35,000 workers to get through coronavirus crisis

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FILE PHOTO: A Tesco delivery van is seen as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world, Woburn, Britain, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L) said on Tuesday it had recruited 35,000 additional workers in the last 10 days to help get it through the coronavirus 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 pounds ($37.4 million) to community organizations 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 pounds in the four weeks to March 22, as Britons stocked up on everything from pasta to pet food ahead of the lockdown.

($1 = 0.8031 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Jon Boyle

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