SUPERMARKET giant Tesco announced a further scheme to help Sheffield’s jobless - as it threw open the doors to its newest city store.
Gifts of champagne and chocolates awaited the first customer at the new Tesco Extra store on Savile Street which opened to the public yesterday morning.
The first customer was Melvyn Boardman, who was followed by a steady stream of shoppers just after 8am - despite traffic disruption due to nearby Spital Hill being closed by police because of a fatal shooting.
Tesco has spent £50 million building the 80,000 sq ft store, which is bigger than any supermarket in Sheffield except ASDA at Handsworth, which is 88,000 sq ft.
Store manager Mark Collings said: “We have created 350 jobs here, 250 of which went to people from the local area including long-term unemployed who were helped into work through a specialised training scheme.
“We now want to build on this with further help in the surrounding community.
“We are developing a scheme in which we will work closely with Job Centre Plus and other agencies in the area to up-skill jobseekers, helping them to find work - even where jobs are not with Tesco.”
Full details of the scheme will be revealed over the coming months but Mr Collings said the project would concentrate on the Burngreave area initially because of its high unemployment rate.
The new Tesco store, which has two sales floors and a petrol station, is Tesco’s biggest in the Sheffield area but of similar size to 250 other Tesco Extra stores around the country, including one next to Chesterfield FC’s B2Net stadium.
At the opening yesterday, staff lined up at the top of the escalator leading from the undergound car park to greet Mr Boardman, who had driven over from Gleadless.
He said: “I was in town so I thought I’d have a drive down and see if I could be one of the first in.”
Staff also held a ceremony, cutting a ribbon outside the store entrance and a cheque for £1,000 was handed over to representatives of St Luke’s Hospice.
The store has been built on former industrial land which was more recently used by car dealerships. Tesco’s building, clad in red, orange, cream and brown, took around eight months to build.