SUPERMARKET bosses are to take on an extra 200 staff as preparations begin for the opening of a new flagship store.
With just four months to go until it opens, Tesco is launching a hotline for would-be workers to register their interest in jobs at the firm’s new Extra store, at the heart of Gateshead’s £150m Trinity Square complex.
And councillors are hopeful the recruitment drive could just be the start of a jobs bonanza, with 1,200 posts to be created across the borough.
Council leader Mick Henry said every time he visits the bustling building site, what he sees gets better and better.
“Wherever I go in the borough, even my mum’s residential home, people are saying they’ve been coming down and it’s looking good,” he said.
“Gateshead has been waiting for this for a long time, and as a local lad I’m very excited by it.”
Coun Henry said he hoped the new development – and particularly the new student accommodation, which will open in 2014 – would make the town centre a more vibrant and dynamic place.
“This is a major opportunity for the people of Gateshead.
“These are the first of around 1,000 permanent retail jobs that will come about as a result of the Trinity Square development, and other major retail developments across Gateshead. And this is everyone’s chance to stake their claim for one of these jobs.”
Of the 200 new staff taken on ahead of the store’s opening on May 20, at least 60 will be people who have been out of work for more than six months.
A further 250 staff who previously worked in the grocery giant’s old Gateshead supermarket will also return, having been moved to other stores while building work took place.
“We’ve worked hard with Tesco over the years it’s taken to get to this stage to ensure that this development has the biggest possible positive impact for the people of Gateshead,” said Coun Henry.
“And these new jobs will help some of the people who most need a foot on the ladder to get back into work.”
The new phone numbers – 0191 490 9440 or freephone 0800 054 2367 – will be open from 9am-4pm on Monday, for up to five days, with an initial phase of recruitment aimed at the long-term unemployed.
Anyone out of work for a shorter time or simply looking for a new job will be given advice on jobs and training which will be available at a later date
Currently in Gateshead, there are more than 21,000 people out of work and claiming benefits, with more than 3,000 of those long-term unemployed.
Among the measures to try to get people back to work, Tesco is offering pre-employment training courses with guaranteed jobs at the end.
But that could just be the start, as more than 1,200 jobs are expected to be created in the borough soon through the wider Trinity Square development, and a series of supermarket-led projects in the centre of Blaydon, Birtley and Felling.
Doug Wilson, Tesco corporate affairs manager, said: “Every person who successfully completes our eight-week pre-employment training course is guaranteed a job in the new Gateshead Tesco Extra store.
“The telephone line going live is the first step in an exciting four-month process to have all the staff we need trained and ready for the opening on May 20.”