Sainsbury's targets 'grey' staff in recruitment push

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The Independent Online

J Sainsbury is to turn to the over-50s in an extensive recruitment drive that will see it create 10,000 full-time jobs.

J Sainsbury is to turn to the over-50s in an extensive recruitment drive that will see it create 10,000 full-time jobs.

The supermarket chain, which will report its first-ever annual loss today, is following the trend set by B&Q - Kingfisher's do-it-yourself chain - in targeting the so-called "grey" employee.

The group has been on a big recruitment push since the autumn in the hope that better service in its stores will help to lure customers from Tesco, the market leader. To compensate for its inadequate distribution network, Sainsbury's recently hired 3,000 staff to stack shelves.

Justin King, the chief executive, will update the City today on the progress the group has made towards transforming its prospects. The chain, once the darling of Home Counties housewives, will hope its estimated £51m loss will mark a low point in its fortunes.

Sainsbury's said school leavers "need not apply" for its new vacancies, which span personnel and customer service and jobs on the bakery, delicatessen and butcher's counters.

Jane Basley, the group's human resources manager, said: "We have found that people in this [older] age range bring a wealth of experience and maturity to their work. Their focus on customer service will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the shopping experience and help to drive sales in our stores."

Candidates will be able to work part-time or even just during school terms so they can be free to spend school holidays with their children or grandchildren.

Sainsbury's is following in the footsteps of Barclays and Norwich Union in opting to target the over-50s.

John Gordon-Saker, who runs the website, said: "With shrinking youth recruitment, over-50s are the largest potential market for employment. They are prepared to do lower-paid work than they would have done before they retired or made redundant."

John Harvey, 80, who works at Sainsbury's store in Islington, north London, said he had made new friends since taking a job returning baskets and helping customers track down tricky items. "Retirement is great, but having worked hard during my working life I couldn't just sit still," he said.

Help the Aged and Age Concern welcomed Sainsbury's initiative.