Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke has launched a fight-back after the supermarket chain’s torrid start to the year with plans to create 20,000 new UK jobs.
The move, which comes weeks after the company issued its first profits warning in 20 years, was hailed by the Prime Minister as a “massive confidence boost for the economy”.
It will see Britain’s largest retailer invest heavily in customer-facing roles. The company said it plans to refresh existing stores and open new ones, while the roles will be a mix of permanent full-time and part-time jobs.
“Tesco is one of the world’s leading companies and the biggest private sector employer in this country,” said David Cameron.
“Their commitment to creating jobs and opportunities for young people at what is a difficult time for the economy is fantastic news for the UK as a whole and for those people they will help into work.”
Tesco said some of the 20,000 new roles would be apprenticeships.
The news provides a welcome respite for the company, which has endured a difficult few weeks.
In January, Tesco admitted it needed to spend millions improving its British shops after issuing a shock profit warning, which wiped more than £5bn off the value of the group’s shares.
The company has since seen its UK market share fall to 29.7pc, according to Kantar Worldpanel, compared with 30.3pc in early 2011.
Richard Brasher, Tesco’s UK chief executive, said the company would focus on “giving opportunities to young people currently unemployed”.
“With youth unemployment at record levels, we’re determined to target many of our new jobs at young people currently out of work – so that in this difficult jobs market those who need help the most will get it,” he added.
The news is likely to come under heavy scrutiny from analysts amid claims that major supermarkets are inflating the number of jobs they actually create.
In January, some of Asda’s claims were called into question with official records showing the retailer had not created as many roles as it had suggested.
Asda said it had been able “to provide over 30,000 job opportunities in the Asda team in 2011”. However, records at Companies House indicate its employee numbers had increased from 173,000 to 180,000, an increase of 7,000.
At the time, a spokesman explained that the 30,000 figure included temporary workers as well as the replacement of people that had left the business.