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A new Co-op food store in Vimto Gardens, Salford has opened, creating 26 new jobs for local Salford residents.  The jobs were filled by the SEARCH project, which is operated by the Work Company.

The 4,000 square feet store opened on 10th November, following a £580,000 investment.  Guests of honour at the launch were Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett and children from nearby St. Philip’s Primary School who helped to cut the ribbon and declare the store open for the community. 

The Salford Employment and Recruitment City Hub (SEARCH) project managed the recruitment process, on behalf of the English Cities Fund, which is Salford Council’s development partner in the Salford Central area. SEARCH engages with employers of all sizes in Salford and across Greater Manchester and aims to assist Salford residents into sustainable employment.  

The candidates for the recruitment were referred from a variety of sources including Jobcentre Plus, Salford City College, Salford Foundation, Broughton Trust, Salford Council and the Work Programme.  Over 70 residents attended an open day where the Co-op management team discussed the jobs available, and answered questions about what it’s like working for the Co-op.

42 of the candidates were invited to attend interviews the following week, and in the meantime, they attended job-preparation sessions delivered by SEARCH on subjects including working in retail, the history of the Co-op, teamwork, customer relations, product knowledge and selling skills.  The SEARCH team also supported the candidates by providing advice and guidance on childcare, travel, interview techniques and benefit calculations.

After the interviews, 26 Salford residents were offered positions at the new store.  The unsuccessful candidates are all registered with SEARCH, who will continue to look for suitable opportunities for them.

Matt Arrigonie, Area Manager for the Co-op said:  “We’re really pleased with the standard of candidates, and the preparation that has gone into the whole recruitment has been brilliant.  In the past, for new store openings, we’ve sometimes used external recruitment agents, but this model has enabled us to engage very effectively with the local community.  We’ve had the time to work with the candidates in advance of the opening on the Co-op ethos and to provide individual coaching to make sure that they are ready to provide great service for our customers.  The whole thing has been a raging success!”

Jerry Stokes, Managing Director of Employment at the Work Company said:  “It’s great news that the Co-op has been able to fill virtually all their positions from the local community.  They gave the commitment to giving opportunities to local people, and they have certainly delivered. Salford Council and local partner agencies supporting unemployed people have worked effectively together to make this project a real success; I’m sure it can provide a template for other employers to follow in the future.”