John Lewis and Waitrose to give staff free meals over winter to help cost of living crisis

Retail group also announces thousands of temporary roles for winter holiday season

A cashier scans goods at a Waitrose supermarket in London, UK. AFP
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The John Lewis Partnership has announced plans to give free meals to staff over the winter period to help with the rising cost of living.

All permanent staff and temporary workers will receive free food from October 3 to January 6 to help with cost-of-living pressures.

The move comes as food costs soar and as inflation in the UK hits 10.1 per cent, with prices continuing to rise at their fastest rate in more than 40 years.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show food and non-alcoholic drinks were the main contributor to rising prices in July. The price of bread, cereals, milk, cheese and eggs rose the fastest, while the cost of vegetables, meat and chocolate was also higher.

A John Lewis Partnership spokesman told the BBC on Wednesday that a person working a four-hour shift will be able to choose one free meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner — depending on the time of day, while a person working an eight-hour shift can choose two meals.

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Staff at larger stores, head offices and distribution centres will have their meals in canteens, while long-distance lorry drivers would receive pre-ordered packed lunches, he added.

Those working in smaller convenience stores would receive a vending-style offer, for example Waitrose salads or sandwiches, the spokesman said.

On Wednesday, the retail group also announced a recruitment drive for 10,000 new Christmas staff.

The department store chain and supermarket business Waitrose said they will advertise new store and supply chain jobs to help deal with increased demand.

About 4,000 new seasonal workers will be recruited for the group's 331 Waitrose shops, including supermarket assistants, night-shift workers and delivery drivers.

The group is also hiring about 2,000 temporary workers for its 34 John Lewis stores, including sales and merchandising roles.

The John Lewis Partnership said the new positions will be advertised online in September and October.

In addition, the business is filling about 4,000 roles across its supply chain through recruitment agencies, with the John Lewis Partnership looking to hire more warehouse workers and drivers to cope with a higher level of orders.

“We pride ourselves on creating a happy workplace because it's our partners who make the difference and it's thanks to them that John Lewis and Waitrose are two of the UK's best-loved brands,” said Andrew Murphy, chief operations officer at the John Lewis Partnership.

“We are looking forward to welcoming people across the country to grow our team and ensure we deliver a great Christmas for our customers.”

Updated: September 01, 2022, 6:36 AM