Tesco will create 16,000 jobs to support the “exceptional” growth in its online business during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grocer said the new jobs would be split between 10,000 new picker jobs assembling online customer orders and 3,000 new delivery drivers, “plus a variety of other roles in stores and distribution centres”.

Tesco said the 16,000 roles would be in addition to the 4,000 full-time jobs it has already created to meet rising online demand during the lockdown. 

The supermarket said it expected the “majority” of these roles to be “filled by colleagues who joined on a temporary basis at the start” of the pandemic, should they want to go full-time. 

The retailer became the first UK grocer to expand its capacity to 1 million online orders a week in April, and it now has the online capacity to fulfil 1.5 million orders. At the start of lockdown in March, Tesco could fulfil around 600,000 online orders a week. 

Tesco’s UK and Republic of Ireland chief executive Jason Tarry said: “Since the start of the pandemic, our colleagues have helped us to more than double our online capacity, safely serving nearly 1.5 million customers every week and prioritising vulnerable customers to ensure they get the food they need. 

“These new roles will help us continue to meet online demand for the long term, and will create permanent employment opportunities for 16,000 people across the UK.”

The supermarket chain also committed to offering 1,000 places to young people through the government’s Kickstart scheme.