Great Britain

Tesco secrets revealed as store uses electronic potatoes and hire staff just four hours after they apply

SECRETS from inside supermarket giant Tesco have been revealed, such as that the store uses electronic potatoes and hires staff just four hours after they apply. 

Britain’s biggest supermarket retailer Tesco hosts close to 50 million shopping trips a week, and has been around for more than a century.

And now a new Channel 5 documentary Inside Tesco 24/7 is getting behind the scenes, to show what goes on day-to-day, as well as highlighting the latest tech innovations.

One of the more unusual innovations was a piece of technology used by the supermarket to ensure their potatoes were of the finest quality, without bruises. 

In order to stock the shelves of nearly 4,000 stores across the UK, Tesco sources fruit and vegetables from more than 13,000 growers across 63 countries.

Their potatoes have been sourced from Branston, in Lincolnshire, for over 30 years. 

James Truscott, Managing Director at Branston, explains that harvesting, sorting and packing is a precision business, due to how delicate the British spud is.

"If we can get all the dirt off without damaging the potatoes, that's our perfect world,” he said.

“Most people worry about bruising their apples but it's pretty easy to bruise a potato as well," reveals James.

A lot of care goes into ensuring that there are no points at which they can bruise the potato as it goes through the conveyer belts and sorting systems. 

In order to do this, they employ an “electronic potato” - a bright orange and blue contraption with a tonne of sensors on it, to monitor the potatoes’ journey.

At each and every drop point, it measures the impact faced by the potato and determines whether it would create a bruise.

The new doco has also outlined how online orders are dealt with and put together.

At 5am, more than 50 members of staff do customer shopping for them at 5am in the Newmarket Extra store, under the watchful eye of Tesco’s online manager.

With the delivery business having boomed in the last year, doubling almost overnight in the pandemic, efficiency is key. 

Therefore, staff use a gadget known as a “Pick Stick”, which tells them exactly where to go in the store to fill customers’ shopping in the most efficient way.

Student Harry, who works part time during his holidays, explains: "The Pick Stick plans the route for me so it makes sure I'm never coming back on myself and includes all the ends of the aisles as well. 

“It means I'm not missing anything out."

With the rapid increase in business that came with the pandemic, came an urgent need for more staff.

By the end of January, the supermarket had a crisis response team in place, which also had to deal with bolstering staff numbers after 50,000 employees fell ill or had to self-isolate.

After losing a sixth of their workforce, Tesco worked to speed up their recruitment process until it took mere hours.

"We had to recruit really, really quickly. So we brought on 50,000 temps in a very short amount of time. We were able to get people from getting an application form to starting work in four hours," says Tony.

Tony Hoggett, Group Chief Operating Officer, said: “We had to recruit really, really quickly. 

“So we brought on 50,000 temps in a very short amount of time. We were able to get people from getting an application form to starting work in four hours.”

Former air hostess Daisy, who was one of new recruits at Hatfield Extra, said: "If you'd asked me this time last year I definitely wouldn't think cleaning a belt in Tesco would be where I'm at.

“But I guess everyone is feeling a bit like that at the moment."

*Inside Tesco 24/7 airs Wednesdays on Channel 5 at 9pm

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