If Tesco was big three years ago when Personnel Today last looked at the sector (240,000 staff worldwide and the UK's largest private sector employer), now its statistics are mind-boggling.
It has 367,000 staff worldwide (250,000 of them in the UK), 2,365 stores (1,770 in the UK), sales of more than £37bn, and last year reported pre-tax profits of just over £2bn. It also has an estimated 30% of the UK grocery market.
Tesco now ranges far beyond food, offering services including banking, flower delivery, online diets, legal advice, DVD rental and telecoms. There have even been suggestions that it might branch out into estate agency.
It operates in 13 countries and is the market leader in six. By the end of the year, Tesco intends to test two purely non-food stores in Manchester and Aberdeen.
First under Sir Iain (now Lord) Mac-Laurin, and since 1997 with Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco's march has seemed inexorable and, to its critics, unstoppable. When it first overtook Sainsbury's in 1995, analysts predicted the lead was Tesco's to lose rather than Sainsbury's to recapture. The chain has rarely put a foot wrong since.
Tesco aims to recruit 11,000 new employees this year, having hired a similar number last year.
It takes on between 80 to 150 graduates each year to two training schemes, one store and one office based.
Common recruitment methods include in-store advertising, events in local areas, and recommendations from existing employees through an employee referral scheme. Last year, for instance, Tesco asked checkout staff to help identify and recruit 12,000 temporary Christmas staff.
Interviews are conducted by the line manager to help build loyalty and buy-in to the decision. There is no probation or trial period. “If we think you are the right person to be hired, then we are committed to you,” according to personnel services director, Catherine Glickman.
People can also 'job sample' - trying out jobs for a short time to see whether working for Tesco is for them.
Three years ago, staff turnover was said to be 29.9%. Now, no specific figure was available but, says Glickman, turnover is below the industry average of around 35%.
Looking at the age spectrum, one in five staff are over 50 and Tesco employs more than 30,000 students. Last year, it also became the first business to set targets fo