March 17, 2020 / 2:51 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-UK's Morrisons to recruit 3,500, expand home delivery, to combat coronavirus

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LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - British supermarket group Morrisons plans to create 3,500 new jobs and expand its home delivery operation to help get through the coronavirus crisis, it said on Tuesday.

In addition to around 2,500 order pickers and drivers to support home delivery, the grocer will be recruiting around 1,000 more people to work in its distribution centres, it said.

The UK’s fourth largest supermarket group will introduce more slots for customers and new ways of delivering groceries, which will include helping vulnerable people and those affected by the virus.

Measures include a new range of food parcels from March 23, and making more delivery slots available to customers both through Morrisons.com and the Morrisons Store on Amazon Prime Now. Morrisons will use 100 additional stores to pick customers’ shopping over the coming weeks.

The group will also launch a customer call centre for orders to be taken over the phone so that people who do not shop online can still order food to be delivered.

“We expect the days, weeks and months ahead to be very testing and we are determined to do our bit,” said chief executive David Potts.

Other measures to support employees include a hardship fund, paying sick pay even if staff are ineligible and asking customers at the checkout to pay, if possible, by card or smartphone to reduce cash handling.

Morrisons is due to publish 2019-20 financial results on Wednesday. (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter and Sarah Young)

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