// Tesco keeps on 13,000 seasonal staff to cope with staff absences amid Covid-19
// CEO Ken Murphy said absence levels had been higher than normal over the past six to eight weeks
Tesco has revealed that around 13,000 temporary Christmas staff have been kept on to help it cope with staff absences due to Covid-19 as the grocer increased its earnings outlook thanks to a strong Christmas trading period.
The UK’s biggest supermarket said nearly half of the 30,000 temporary staff taken on over Christmas have been hired until at least the end of January as it battles with surging staff sickness levels due to the Omicron variant spreading across the nation.
Chief executive Ken Murphy said absence levels had been higher than normal over the past six to eight weeks, but were “manageable” and well below those seen in the early days of the pandemic.
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His comments came as Tesco reported a strong Christmas for sales in the face of “growing cost pressures and supply chain challenges”.
The grocer reported a 0.3% rise in like-for-like sales over the six weeks to January 8 compared with a year earlier, when trade was boosted by coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
On a two-year basis, it saw UK festive sales jump 8.8%, though Tesco added that recent trading was also buoyed as Britons chose to stay at home more due to the spread of Omicron.
Tesco has joined a raft of retail rivals in raising its profit expectations, with close rival Sainsbury’s lifting its profit outlook on Wednesday, helped by a 0.1% sales rise over the six weeks to January 8.