Morrisons supermarket chain takes on thousands of new staff

Bradford-based retailer expands online delivery service and in-store cleaning

Morrisons is hiring thousands more permanent staff as it expands its online delivery service and steps up in-store cleaning, building on a dramatic workforce expansion since the pandemic took hold.

The Bradford-based supermarket chain, which employed about 97,000 workers at the start of the year, hired 45,000 extra staff after the coronavirus crisis hit the UK. Many of the new recruits temporarily replaced permanent workers who were vulnerable or forced to self isolate.

But nearly 25,000 extra workers are still at Morrisons, 6,000 of whom have already been taken on for good, with plans to make thousands more permanent in the coming weeks.

The hiring spree echoes similar steps taken by businesses that have enjoyed increased custom during the pandemic. Tesco said it would permanently employ 16,000 extra staff taken on during the pandemic to help support a surge in online grocery trade, while Amazon is recruiting 7,000 permanent staff and 20,000 seasonal workers in the UK to meet rising demand for online shopping.

Electrical goods specialist, DIY chain Kingfisher and delivery firms DPD and Hermes have also together hired thousands more workers to cope with the rise in home deliveries.

Groceries have seen a particularly strong shift to home delivery during the pandemic, with more than 13% now bought online in the UK compared with about 7% at the start of the year, according to Kantar.

In May, Morrisons said annual sales at its online grocery store were set to pass £1bn by next spring after it doubled the number of delivery slots available during the lockdown.

It has also enabled the collection of online orders from more than 280 stores and more than doubled its business with Amazon’s Prime fast delivery service, as well as selling tens of thousands of pre-prepared food boxes a week.

Morrisons is due to report its financial figures on Thursday. The scale of its investment in recruitment – and other costs related to home delivery and protecting staff and shoppers from the virus – is expected to hit profits despite an anticipated 9.5% rise in sales at established stores in the three months to the end of July.

The retailer is also under pressure to keep prices low amid heavy competition from the discounters and a tough economic climate in the UK.

Supermarket sales have been pumped up by the shift to dining at home, prompted by the high street lockdown and ongoing health fears over dining in restaurants and commuting to the office.

However, the onset of a recession, in which many have already lost jobs, is expected to lead many families to seek to trim their budgets through autumn and winter.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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