Tesco will need to invest heavily in quality, freshness and training for its in-store bakery offering over the next two years, according to a retail analyst.

The supermarket chain plans to create 20,000 new jobs by 2013/14, and said bakery will form a major part of its extensive recruitment drive, in addition to its fresh produce, fresh meat and counter services. However, the retailer would not confirm the number of bakery staff it was looking to recruit, at this stage.

David Gray, UK retail analyst at Planet Retail, said: "The key point for Tesco will be its in-store environment. Problems the firm has admitted to having recently, include understaffing, and category management in stores has not been good. It will need to look to key competitors, see what they are doing and invest in training people for higher levels of customer service."

Gray added that Tesco needed to learn from its rivals, which are putting freshness and the quality appeal at the forefront of their operations: "For example, Morrisons has a rule about food created and displayed on the hot counter it must not be left out for more than two hours. And it communicates this to its customers with a visible white board so that it can keep track.

"In addition, Morrisons’ fresh lab store format, trialled in Leeds last year, proved a hit. The company has taken away packaging and displayed products loose on counters, so customers can see the quality for themselves. If Tesco can do the same by convincing customers they sell good-quality food, that can be seen being freshly prepared, its outlook might be brighter."

Nick McGlashan, apprenticeship manager at Tesco, told British Baker that 145 bakery apprentices will complete its programme by April, with a further 144 set to complete in October. Tesco will be reviewing and extending the apprenticeship programme in the near future to offer more staff the opportunity to earn recognised qualifications.