Sainsbury’s is trying to combat ‘retail career snobbery’ through a recruitment campaign aimed at young people.

Youth Can, launched this week, will see young Sainsbury’s workers visit schools to share with 14 to 18-year-olds their experiences of working at the retailer.

The campaign follows an idea from members of the supermarket’s National Youth Forum. Last November, they told Sainsbury’s directors of their frustrations over the stigma attached to working in retail, highlighting misconceptions such as lack of intellectual challenge, low professionalism and poor rewards.

“The stories we heard were real eye openers,” said Sainsbury’s customer service and colleague director Gwyn Burr. “They were incredibly passionate and positive about working in retail.”

Some were working part time, others had joined straight from school and progressed to department or store management, she said. “But all talked of how ‘retail career snobbery’ blinkers friends and family.

“We agreed that this is something that needs to be tackled - and can think of no better way to do it than by getting them to take their stories to young people, who are facing one of the most challenging employment markets for some time.”

Success stories at Sainsbury’s include 26-year-old store manager Adil Majid, who is responsible for a 38,000 sq ft store with turnover of more than £400,000 a week.

“When I first told my parents I was going to work at Sainsbury’s they were far from impressed,” he said. “And as for my mates, they just laughed when I told them what I wanted to be. Until I showed them my boss’s car. They don’t laugh any more!”