Tesco has said it plans to create an additional 16,000 permanent jobs to support “the exceptional growth” of its online business, according to reports.

The company said: “The supermarket expects the majority of these roles to be filled by colleagues who joined on a temporary basis at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but who now want to stay with the business permanently.”

It also said it may increase the number of roles further in the future.

The 16,000 jobs will include 10,000 pickers, who will assemble customer online orders, and 3,000 drivers to deliver these orders, along with a range of supporting roles in stores and distribution centres.

The announcement follows the news earlier this month that both Aldi and Lidl planned to take on more than 1,000 new staff each to support new store openings.

Tesco is reportedly serving 1.5 million customers a week online, which is up from 600,000 in March this year.

Before the coronavirus crisis Tesco was recording around 9% of its sales via the internet, but this has now risen to 16%. The supermarket expects online sales of £5.5 billion this year, up from £3.3 billion in 2019.

Jason Tarry, Tesco’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “These new roles will help us continue to meet online demand for the long term, and will create permanent employment opportunities for 16,000 people across the UK.”