Tesco CEO Philip Clarke this week declared that its stores across the UK were no longer “running hot” after revealing the retailer has added 300,000 more staff hours per week as a key plank of its £1bn revamp.

Clarke, who blamed a slip in the standard of service at its stores on over-stretched staff, said Tesco had “retrained virtually every member of our team” and that 8,000 new full-time employees were now in place.

The £200m investment in extra staff and training had been demanded by workers, said Tesco. In a survey of 40,000 staff designed to gauge their opinion of Clarke’s turnaround plans, many had raised the lack of resources as a key issue.

“In the last six months, we’ve increased the staffing on the shop floor by 300,000 hours per week,” said Clarke, who added that Tesco had also turned away from a policy of having “multi-skilled staff” to a more specialised workforce, including specially trained teams covering fruit and veg, meat, bakery, and health & beauty. The changes had resulted in improved morale and availability, he said.

New initiatives include sending staff to a fish training school in Grimbsy, while fresh and meat staff have been given 100,000 pieces of new uniform.

The need for extra staff was identified as a key issue by operations strategy and business planning director, David Hobbs, who revealed that staff concerns were being aired at a weekly meeting of the Baldock group, the senior management team spearheading Tesco’s turnaround.

“We’re starting to see the green shoots of progress but we know there still a lot to do,” he said.

Analysts predicted Tesco would report sales growth of 0% to 0.1% when it announces its first half results, next Wednesday.