SHEFFIELD’S next superstore is due to open at the end of the month after being inundated with 2,000 applications for 300 jobs.
The giant Tesco Extra is the new landmark at the corner of Savile Street, the Wicker and Spital Hill.
Manager Mark Collings said: “Given the current climate I was expecting a positive response, but the sheer volume of applications that we received was simply overwhelming.”
Up to 10,000 leaflets were distributed to advertise work at the superstore, and 1,350 applicants were interviewed.
A partnership agreement with Sheffield Job Centre Plus and Sheffield College was designed to ensure that many jobs went to local people.
Local MP David Blunkett said: “Every single job created is now like gold.
“The number of applicants both for the current new Tesco store, and the recently opened Asda store at Parson Cross, demonstrates both people’s desperation to be in work, and the potential hopelessness for so many who remain disappointed.”
Mr Blunkett said his constituency was now the 37th worst of 650 constituencies in terms of unemployment in the UK. “This is particularly worrying for young people, many of whom have not experienced the critical value of work, and the self esteem and self worth which comes from having a purpose in getting out of bed each morning, and being self reliant and independent.
“Urgent action is needed at a time when figures have now shown a tragic drop in the number of young people staying on for school and college after the age of 16, partly due to the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.”
Tesco offered half of the jobs at the superstore, which opens on Monday, October 31, to those applying though the partnership with the Job Centre Plus and Sheffield College. Around 1,000 people applied and almost 700 applicants were interviewed.
Job-seekers could also apply via a recruitment website which received a similar response and as a result more than 700 people were interviewed.
Council permission was granted for the development, despite some concerns that it would hit existing businesses, including Castle Market, and cause traffic problems. In particular, councillors thought it would help to improve the fortunes of the whole area around Spital Hill.
The new store and its scale is seen by critics as another example of the supermarket giants tightening their grip on consumer spending. It will be the biggest Tesco in Sheffield. The company is trying to secure permission for another development at Oxclose in Halfway.
And while any new jobs are being welcomed in a city where unemployment stands at 17,670, or 4.7%, above the English average of 3.8%, political and business leaders are trying to forge a future for Sheffield based on skilled employment.
The Savile Street store will offer fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and dairy products. Non-food ranges will include clothing, toys, health and beauty products, electricals, DVDs, books and CDs. There will also be a café, a phone shop, a petrol station and a multi-storey car park.
Mr Collings said: “We felt that it was time to bring a larger store, with more choice and range, to the city. There are a number of smaller format Tesco stores in Sheffield but, following customer feedback, we believe that providing a Tesco Extra will improve the shopping experience for residents.
“The creation of the new store has not only allowed us to increase the level of choice we can offer the residents of Sheffield but we have also formed a great relationship with Sheffield Job Centre Plus and Sheffield College and, following a successful recruitment process, have been able to offer jobs to many local people.”
He added: “We are committed to continuing to work with local community groups to ensure that those who were not successful in gaining employment this time have opportunities to do so in the future.”
The launch ceremony will include a £1,000 donation to charity.