Tesco’s new CEO Dave Lewis has given the green light for store managers to put more staff hours on the shop floor, in a bid to tackle damaged morale and get the retailer’s store improvement programme back on track.

The Grocer understands Lewis has instructed store managers to feel free to inject extra hours, increase flexibility with overtime and move away from centrally controlled diktats, to shift the focus from cost saving to better service.

Despite predecessor Philip Clarke’s early moves to improve service, Tesco staff have been bemoaning the lack of staffing hours for months, claiming it has led to poor availability and hampered the rollout of store revamps.

Tesco sources said Lewis communicated the message within days of taking up his post.

“His message was they should just get on and do it if they perceive there to be a problem with hours in store,” said one Tesco source. “Dave’s approach is very much about getting on and tackling issues, not talking about them, and he doesn’t want store managers to have to wait months for the result of his root-and-branch review of the business if they think this issue is damaging their stores.”

Kantar Retail analyst Bryan Roberts welcomed the move. “Tesco needs to stop obsessing about store-level penny-pinching and instead start focusing on making the run-up to Christmas as good as it possibly can be for shoppers. The last thing Tesco can afford to do is to alienate more shoppers for the sake of saving a few grand per store.”

David Gray, an analyst at Planet Retail, also welcomed the move. “Store standards are actually perceived to have dropped since the start of the ‘Building a Better Tesco’ programme and the plan announced in February to put more staff on the shop floor has been driven primarily by productivity improvements rather than hiring new people.”

Although Lewis has insisted he will not be rushed into any drastic decisions on the future of Tesco, he has not wasted time ringing the changes since taking over. He has said he will not shy away from making management changes if needed, and there is speculation within Tesco that Lewis will streamline the senior management team, with a reduction from 150 to 70 roles widely rumoured.

Tesco also announced it was canning its free Clubcard TV service, launched last year, despite having signed the rights to a raft of TV shows and movies, including A Touch of Frost, Cracker, Inspector Morse and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

“We have taken the decision to close the Clubcard TV service, which means that unfortunately you won’t be able to watch the library of movies and TV on the service from 28 October,” it said in a message to Clubcard holders.

“We’ve learnt a lot since launching Clubcard TV in March 2013 and while many enjoyed our free service, we weren’t getting the level of repeat usage we had hoped for.”

Tesco said it would continue showing TV shows and films on its Blinkbox service, though there has been speculation that it too could close as part of Lewis’s retrenchment.