Stratford Tesco team offer more than a little help
TESCO’S slogan may be “Every little helps” but throughout the 14 months of the pandemic the supermarket’s staff have offered massive amounts of help.
Key workers are being recognised as part of national Thank You Day on 4th July, and Herald readers suggested supermarket workers had been integral to helping the community carry on throughout these challenging times.
To find out what it’s been like behind the scenes, the Herald visited Tesco at the Maybird shopping centre in Stratford.
The superstore employs 350 people and took on an extra 100 staff to help cope with the increased demands of the pandemic – including online trade up by 150 per cent.
In a large warehouse behind the shopfloor, dot.com shift leader Emma Wright is stacking customer orders sorted into crates – some will be for click-and-collect while others will be picked up by drivers for home delivery.
Emma says the work never stops. They start at 7am and finish at 10pm and deal with hundreds of orders. Nevertheless, she’s upbeat and says of the physical work: “It is like having a free gym.”
More importantly, she says, it is the spirit of the team that makes work enjoyable: “The pickers and the drivers are amazing – we couldn’t do it without them.”
Even behind the scenes, the team is keen to prioritise customer care. Emma relates the experience of how they stepped up to help one shopper in isolation.
“We heard about a gentleman aged 100 who lived near Shipston who wasn’t online and was struggling to place an order. We popped over to see him and sorted him out. Then if he had a problem he would just ring us directly and I would pop over on my way home from work.
“He came in last week to pick up a click-and-collect – it was so lovely to see him out and about.”
Over Christmas, the team also visited customers in person and were chuffed to receive a flurry of cards thanking them. Nicola Brookes, dot.com lead manager, says: “Knowing that we were doing what was the right thing for the customer was what kept us going, because believe me there were some bleak times.
“We have been like a lifeline to some people – the drivers would come back and tell us how lovely everybody is and how appreciative they are of our work.”
Those working on the shopfloor have faced different challenges. Customer services colleague Sally Allcock says: “We struggled with some customers not complying with the rules, and that caused a lot of worry. Most people are very good and have been really appreciative of our service but there was the odd one or two who would challenge you if you asked them to step back, and that wasn’t nice.”
Again, Sally mentions the spirit of the team as being central to getting them through the challenging days. “We have a brilliant team who have worked hard to keep everything ticking over. We all muck in and pull together.”
Manager Chris Green says he couldn’t be prouder of the staff. “They have done sterling work. During the height of the pandemic it was like Christmas shopping every day and we wouldn’t have been able to maintain it at the level we did without the incredible commitment of the staff.”