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Tesco will create 16,000 new jobs after lockdown led to “exceptional growth” in its online business.

The new posts will include 10,000 staff to pick customer orders from shelves and 3,000 delivery drivers.

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, said it expected many of the roles to go to staff who joined them on a temporary basis at the start of the pandemic.

More new posts could be created “in the coming months”, the firm said.

Supermarkets scrambled to meet a surge in demand for online deliveries while the UK was in lockdown. Tesco said online customer numbers had risen from around 600,000 at the start of the pandemic to nearly 1.5m.

Before the pandemic, around 9% of Tesco’s sales were online. Now online sales are 16% of sales, and expected to be worth over £5.5bn this year, the company said.

It comes at a time when competition in the sector is intensifying with Amazon launching services that supply Morrisons groceries within a few hours of ordering.

In July Tesco announced it was expanding its same-day delivery service from London and the south east to cover all of the UK to compete.

Tesco has already created 4,000 new permanent roles since March.

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