Retailer roundup: Lidl closes Middlesbrough store after staffers contract Covid-19

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According to several news reports, Lidl Great Britain closed one of its grocery stores in Middlesbrough this weekend - the first one to be shuttered in the UK because of coronavirus - after several colleagues were infected.

The supermarket on Cargo Street Lane was shut down Friday reportedly because it had inadequate levels of staffers. It was unclear when the store would reopen.

"All supermarkets are currently operating under exceptional circumstances, and the safety of our colleagues and customers is critical to us," Lidl said in a statement. "We have been in touch with those members of our team that have tested positive for Covid-19, to offer our support and wish them a speedy recovery.

"Our teams are all playing a crucial role in continuing to feed communities across the country. It is therefore vitally important that we reopen the store as soon as we can, to ensure that households have access to the essential food and products they need."

Middlesbrough has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, and the Teesside area where the store is located has had a high mortality rate, according to the Middlesbrough Council.

Sainsbury's defers dividend decision, wipes out some bonsuses: In a very lengthy media release on its website, J Sainsbury and CEO Mike Coupe have decided to defer any dividend payment due to a hazy future outlook with Covid-19 while also cutting bonsuses for some of its senior staff.

Coupe and Sainsbury's cited challenges, both now and in the future, as a result for making the announcement, even though grocery sales have risen by nearly 12% over the past seven weeks. Its clothing sales, however, have fallen by 53% drop, while general merchandise is down 22%.

“Any decision on dividend is difficult, but ultimately the board came to the conclusion that given the level of uncertainty we would defer any decision on paying a dividend to the autumn,” Coupe said in the statement.

Tesco serves one million online customers in a week: The UK retailer says it reached a milestone by following through on one million delivery orders last week and says it hopes to reach 1.2 million in the coming weeks - double the number of slots at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Tesco has hired 4,000 new drivers and 12,000 new pickers since the start of the crisis. It says its colleagues also set a new record by picking more than 10 million items in a single day for the first time ever.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important we do everything we can to help people get access to food, particularly our most vulnerable customers," says Chris Poad, Managing Director, Online. "We’ve rapidly changed our online business to help create more slots for people that need them most – from recruiting thousands of new colleagues to changing the way we pick and pack orders.”

Adds CEO Dave Lewis, "In the last six weeks, we’ve built a grocery delivery business which is probably the biggest in the world, but we know we need to do more – and we will. But we need your help too. If you can shop in-store, or use Click+Collect, please do."

Morrisons launched gluten-free food box: the retailer's latest offering duing the pandemic is a ‘Gluten Free Box’ that includes both fresh food and cupboard staples, including vegetables, cheese and gluten-free pasta and treats. Boxes are delivered one day of ordering and are priced at £35. 

“We have listened to our customers who want gluten free essentials and cannot leave their home," Morrisons Free From Buying Manager, Charlotte Baldwin says. "These boxes will keep many customers stocked up with food at this very difficult time.”

The timing is spot on for Morrisons, with Coeliac Awareness Week beginning on Satruday.

Aldi offering face masks to all colleagues: The discounter will provide masks to all its store-based colleagues to further support their safety. This move is in addition to the previously announced provision of gloves and clear screens that are being installed at more than 7,000 checkouts. Colleagues can also now access the government’s Covid-19 testing programme for critical workers.

Aldi has also introduced a voucher scheme to make it easier for volunteers to buy food on behalf of the vulnerable and those self-isolating at vouchers.aldi.co.uk. Vouchers, which are £5 and £10, can be posted to any address in the UK so they can be given to volunteers, friends or family members to shop on behalf of vulnerable people. 


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