Co-op retailers hiring staff to see them through Covid-19 crisis

‘We’re working really hard to keep all our outlets open – but we do want more people to come forward and help boost our workforce’

As UK supermarkets feel the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on supply chains and demand, staff are also being affected by a loss of colleagues through illness, self-isolation and school closures.

Because of this, many retailers are seeing fewer team members available to work in front-line outlets. Across the UK, co-operative retailers are embarking on recruitment drives for a range of fixed-term and casual contracts, with scope for these to be made into permanent contracts at a later date.  

Heather Lee, head of people and performance at Lincolnshire Co-operative, said: “All our colleagues are doing a brilliant job – from those on the front-line to those in support and office roles. We’re redeploying people to help our front-line teams too.

“We’re working really hard to keep all our outlets open and serving our communities – but we do want more people to come forward and help boost our workforce so we can continue to do that through the days and weeks to come.”

This call has been echoed across the sector, with the Co-op Group creating 5,000 store-based jobs in a bid to provide employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus crisis. The Group is simplifying its recruitment process so successful candidates can start work within days. 

“I’ve never known anything like what we’re experiencing right now,” said Co-op Group CEO, Steve Murrells. “The Co-op’s got a critical role to play in supporting our members, customers, and colleagues as well as local communities across the country. My heartfelt commitment to you is that we will work through this, together, in the most co-operative, responsible and compassionate way we can – just as you would expect us to.”

Central England is recruiting a range of temporary roles on three-month rolling contracts – and like other societies, is launching an urgent food bank appeal to support charity partners after they reported a major fall in donations at the same time as a spike in demand. Donations will be collected from Central England Co-op stores to create food parcels, which contain around 11 items and will provide at least three days’ worth of meals for those in need.

Central England chief executive, Debbie Robinson, said: “As a co-operative retailer, we want to make sure we are leading the way for our communities during this difficult time. We also wanted to say we are working hard with our suppliers to make sure that shelves are regularly re-stocked, as a community retailer we know how important it is for everyone to have access to good quality food and vital essentials.

“To make sure that there are enough items for everyone, we have placed a temporary limit of two of every product in our stores to help maintain stock levels. We are asking our customers and members to be considerate to others at this uncertain time and shop responsibly.”

At Midcounties Co-operative, agents in its travel business have been supporting up to 1,000 queries a day from customers and members providing guidance, support and assisting them in rearranging travel plans where needed. “We have now taken the decision to centralise this operation to help us to better manage the volume and continuity of these enquiries, while also enabling us to deploy scores of colleagues to support our food stores and ensure that we are continuing to provide vital goods to our communities during a period of unprecedented demand, said Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer for Midcounties.

“This action will complement our fast track recruitment activities in food which in the first 24 hours has attracted almost 900 potential colleagues, many of whom we are looking to start with us over the next few days.”

Below are links to vacancies within the co-operative retail sector. If you have any to add, please email [email protected].

Lincolnshire Co-op is keen to find customer service assistants for food stores and pharmacies. They’re also looking for delivery drivers for the bakery Gadsby’s and to help deliver medication to pharmacies and home delivery patients. Anyone interested can fill out the application form (links below). They’ll then have a telephone interview to enable them to start as soon as possible. Many of the roles would suit people from retail or hospitality backgrounds.

Customer Service Assistants:

Delivery Drivers:

The Co-op Group has created 5,000 roles and is urgently recruiting permanent and temporary colleagues at its food stores.

Temporary Service Assistants: apply in your local store. 

Permanent Service Assistants: apply online.

Central England Co-op is launching a mass recruitment drive for customer service advisors at many of 240 stores.

All roles:

Southern Co-op has an ongoing recruitment drive, including many in food retail.

A range of roles here:

East of England Co-op also has an ongoing recruitment drive, many of which are in food retail. 

All retail roles here:

Midcounties Co-operative is asking any individuals looking for short term work or any companies looking to redeploy their staff to email their details (including CV if they have one) or enquiries to [email protected].