Supermarket Morrisons will create 3,500 jobs to grow its delivery services during the coronavirus outbreak – and after new trading results showed the chain had reported a spike in profits as shoppers began panic-buying supplies.
The retailer has announced plans to recruit 2,500 new pickers and drivers, plus an additional further 1,000 staff in its distribution centres as demand for home deliveries grows with people moving into protective isolation at home.
The store is also creating more delivery slots for customers, setting up a call centre for those within internet, and launching a new range of food parcels.
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.”
This comes after new full-year results showed an overall dip in group revenue of 1.1% to £17.5bn, with profits rising 3% to £408m.
These numbers have been buoyed in recent weeks as customers have been stockpiling key food and household essentials.
Sophie Lund-Yates, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Morrison’s full-year sales went backwards, with the group blaming the December election for denting consumer confidence in the important festive season. Increased discounting in the sector is also weighing on performance as Morrison continues to cut prices.
“However the continued spread of Covid-19 has seen a short-term boost to sales as people stockpile.
“To some degree this will simply be a pull-forward of sales that would otherwise be due in the coming weeks, things should eventually even out as things get back to normal – providing supply chains remain robust.
“Supermarkets will remain crucial over the coming weeks and months, putting them in a more defensive position than other retailers. However, Morrison’s online offering is smaller than its rivals, and that could hold it back if customers switch to digital shopping as the outbreak progresses.
“On the plus side, one of Morrison’s key strengths is the fact it owns rather than leases the vast majority of its stores. That means it should be better prepared to weather a downturn compared to some.”