Marks & Spencer’s is to ramping up its Christmas staffing programme, taking on 20,000 employees across its UK and Ireland stores this year.

The figure is 5,000 more than last year when more than one in five of the 15,000 recruits were made permanent employees after finishing their seasonal contracts.

The positions will include customer assistants, M&S Café assistants and store operation roles across 500 stores. 

Marks & Spencer said that new recruits will receive a two day induction as well as a reward package including a 20% discount off M&S products. 

The retailer is bolstering its staffing levels in anticipation of extra festive custom. M&S served 35 million shoppers in the week leading up to Christmas last year. 

M&S retail director Steve Rowe said: “Customers turn to M&S for the most important occasions, trusting us to deliver delicious Christmas lunch, latest fashions and fantastic customer service.

“We want to make sure that our customer needs are met so we’re putting the call out for 20,000 passionate, service-centred recruits to come join the team and help make it a merry Christmas for millions of M&S shoppers.”

The retailer said that more than 400,000 hours will be worked each week by M&S employees in the run up to Christmas.