Sainsbury’s has opened the first of six in-store ‘food colleges’ in a bid to boost sales by enhancing the skills of staff working on its food counters and in its cafes.
The supermarket chain will invest millions of pounds in developing more than 8,500 personnel across the UK next year, the equivalent of 5% of its 153,000-strong workforce, although the figure could rise to 10,000.
The move follows the creation of a ‘bakery college’, which opened earlier this year and has halved the amount of time that it takes staff to complete their Level 2 qualifications, the retailer said.
Customer service director Gwyn Burr added: “We believe that the skills that our colleagues will learn and develop at the colleges will play a big part in our future success.”
The first college opened this week at the firm’s London Colney store near St Albans, but others are scheduled to follow at the Oldbury shop in Birmingham and at stores in Murrayfield, Bradford, Calcot and the Hempstead Valley.
Staff working on meat, fish, deli and hot food counters and in the retailer’s cafes will be offered in-depth training in product knowledge, knife and preparation skills, sales, customer service and merchandising for at least a day. Participants will also be taught coaching skills so that expertise can be “cascaded” down to colleagues when they return to work.
Sainsbury’s said it had set aside 220 sq meter areas in its stores for training purposes and that 90% of its workers were based within a two-hour drive of one of the colleges. It also announced that it plans to recruit 500 new personnel over the next year to cover store expansion and increased demand by customers for food from its counters.