John Lewis has said it will launch rapid Covid-19 testing centres in select stores and Waitrose supermarkets in a bid to protect its 16,000 staff.
The John Lewis Partnership, which runs the John Lewis department store business and Waitrose grocery arm, said testing will be available at 40 sites following a trial last month.
In November, the retail group introduced rapid testing to its Milton Keynes distribution centre as it dealt with soaring demand due to Black Friday and early Christmas sales.
Up to 1,000 workers and agency staff volunteered to be tested up to three times a week.
It said the testing process helps protect staff and customers by quickly identifying those that need to isolate, limiting the potential spread of the virus.
The group said the trial will now be extended to 40 locations across Waitrose and John Lewis supply chain sites, Waitrose.com customer fulfilment centres, John Lewis textiles factory and some Waitrose and John Lewis shops.
Andrew Murphy, executive director for operations at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We’re proud to have helped develop and establish a testing scheme that contributes towards the UK’s fight against Covid-19.
“We already have a wide range of measures in place to keep our partners and customers safe and rapid testing builds on this at our busiest time of the year.”
Health minister Lord Bethell said: “I’m delighted that the John Lewis Partnership are working alongside us in piloting the latest testing technology.
“It’s fantastic that such a renowned company is joining us in our efforts to make testing available for workers up and down the country.
“We have recently published a list of approved private providers of Covid-19 testing, to help employers access the services they need to carry out testing and identify the virus amongst their staff.
“This will mean staff can safely self-isolate and avoid any subsequent transmission.”