The academic year has only just begun but retailers are already wooing the brightest graduates of 2009. Asda has invested £100,000 in two new recruitment websites, and, which give background information about the two sides of the business and put particular emphasis on its graduate recruitment scheme.

“Applications to the George business, based in Leicestershire, doubled last week during the trial phase of the site,” said Claire Fuller, resourcing manager. “There were applications from across the world.”

Marks & Spencer is also inviting applications for its 2009 graduate recruitment and business placement programme. There are 165 graduate roles in stores and head office available and a further 35 on its business placement scheme. Tesco has also shown its commitment to recruiting graduates, with 250 starting work this month.

“While other employers are cutting back on hiring, we remain committed to hiring quality people who could end up going all the way to the top,” said Lorna Bryson, head of resourcing UK operations. “We’re looking for graduates who want to join one of the few British employers that still offers jobs with enough development opportunities to provide a career for life.”

Aldi, too, is on the hunt for graduates – luring many of its managers fresh from university with salaries of more than £40,000 and a company car.