Supermarket giant Morrisons is creating 3,500 new jobs as it expands its home delivery service to cope with soaring demand amid the coronavirus crisis.
The chain said it would be recruiting around 2,500 pickers and drivers, while it will also be hiring about 1,000 people to work in its distribution centres.
The move to boost home delivery will see the retailer make more slots available to customers, use another 100 stores for shop picking, set up a call centre for those without access to online shopping and launch a new range of simple-to-order food parcels from March 23.
Morrisons also set out measures to help staff, including a colleague hardship fund, a pledge to pay sick pay to all employees and redeployment of colleagues who are vulnerable to the crisis.
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “We expect the days, weeks and months ahead to be very testing and we are determined to do our bit.
“These measures will support our very hard-working colleagues, enable us to provide more food to more people in their homes and create opportunities for people whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus.”
The announcement comes after the chain last week vowed to pay small suppliers immediately to help support under-pressure cash flow.
Supermarkets have faced rocketing demand for online grocery deliveries as many Britons have been forced into self-isolation and are shunning shops due to social distancing advice from the Government.
The demand has left some shoppers unable to secure home delivery slots for up to two weeks.
Morrisons also said it would look to protect employees where possible by asking customers to pay by card or smartphone to reduce cash handling, and by issuing hand sanitiser at checkouts at all stores.
It will also significantly increase cleaning of places that staff and customers touch.