British supermarket group Sainsbury's said on Wednesday that it would raise pay for its 127,000 hourly paid workers to at least £11 an hour from February as it looks to attract and retain staff in a tight labour market.
Britain's second largest grocer after Tesco, and one of the country's biggest private sector employers, said the pay of Sainsbury’s and Argos retail workers would increase from £10.25 to £11.00 per hour outside of London, and from £11.30 to £11.95 per hour in the capital.
Sainsbury's said the latest rise takes the increase for frontline, hourly paid staff to 10% in the last year and 38% over six years.
The government mandated National Living Wage will rise to £10.42 an hour from April, an increase of 9.7%.
Sainsbury's said the latest pay hike would cost it £185 million ($223 million) and follows a £20 million investment in October.
It will be financed by cost savings in other areas of the business.
For Food For Staff
The group has also extended free food during shifts for store and depot staff by a further six months, and is also increasing staff discounts at Argos.
"We are acutely aware of how tough things are for millions of households this winter and we know that particularly after Christmas, budgets will be tighter than ever," Simon Roberts, CEO, Sainsbury's said.
In November, market leader Tesco increased the basic hourly rate of pay for its store staff by 20 pence to 10.30 pounds or 10.98 pounds in London, taking the 2022 increase to nearly 8%.
Sainsbury's is due to update on Christmas trading on 11 January.
Shares in the group were up 4.4% in afternoon trading after data from market researcher Kantar showed it had performed solidly in December.