Sainsbury's increased the number of places available on its graduate programme by 30% as it began recruitment this week for 2010.

The retailer has 85 positions available, up from the 2009 intake of 65. It is also tripling the number of positions on its two student schemes, which offer year-long or three-month paid placements, to 64.

The move reflects Sainsbury's plans to grow its store portfolio by adding 15% new space by 2011.

"Retail provides an unrivalled number of opportunities for an ambitious graduate," said Sainsbury's human resources director Imelda Walsh. "Sainsbury's has a long history of commitment to graduates and students and the increase in the number of places available is proof of our dedication to training the retail leaders of tomorrow, despite the current economic climate."

Over a two-year period Sainsbury's graduates work in different parts of the business including at least four months in-store. A number of places are also available on the Product Technology scheme, where candidates can visit foreign suppliers to help with product development.

"I have been involved in everything from raising money for Comic Relief to helping plan layouts for new stores," said Douglas Elvidge, a graduate currently working in Sainsbury's commercial team. "It provides me new challenges and development opportunities on a daily basis."