Back to work specialists Interserve Learning & Employment have helped 25 of their clients registered at the Coventry office to find employment and solved the recruitment needs of Leekes, a new department store which opened on 22 September 2012.

Home department store Leekes has resisted the downward trend affecting some retailers, and earlier this year announced a 10% increase in sales. Its continued success has seen it grow from the modest beginnings of an Ironmonger’s shop in the Welsh Valleys to having a number of home department stores spread across Wales, Wiltshire and Bilston, near Wolverhampton.

Leekes’ new store in Coventry opened in September and covers 178,000 sq feet – the size of almost three football pitches – and offers residents in and around the area a wide-range of quality products that come with Leekes high standards of customer service. Best of all, it brings new job opportunities to the people of Coventry, 25 of whom have secured sales advisor roles through Interserve Learning & Employment.

After hearing that Leekes was planning to relocate from their Bedworth furniture store into the ex-Makro distribution centre in Coventry, Marie Brennan, a local Employer Relations Advisor for Interserve Learning & Employment contacted Leekes, she said: “It was really exciting to hear that Leekes were bringing one of their department stores into the area, after all the doom and gloom stories of retailers not doing well. I got in touch to let them know about Interserve Learning & Employment’s free recruitment service which includes candidate screening and sector specific training, and I was asked to recruit for a team of sales advisors for the shop floor, warehouse operatives and lead takers.”

After running workshops and awareness sessions Marie in partnership with Leekes found 25 brilliant candidates who would all do well in the roles, and all of whom passed their interviews. Some have started work already, helping to get the store ready and the rest will start nearer the launch date.

One successful candidate is Maria Worrall, 39, a single parent from Wyken, Coventry who had been out of work for quite a number of years raising her son. Once he left school and started college she was able to go back to work, but after being unemployed for such a long time she didn’t think that any employer would be interested in her. Her Jobcentre Plus Adviser referred her onto Interserve Learning & Employment’s Work Programme and the employment arm of their business sencia, whose local team worked with her to build up her confidence and find the right job for her.

Maria said: “The job has exceeded my expectations. It has changed my life. Previously when looking for work nobody would touch me as I had no experience – yet Leekes believed in me and it has been a life changing experience. I am so grateful to Leekes for giving me the opportunity and to sencia for putting me forward. I feel a lot more confident, and very motivated. People are treating me differently and I feel more respected and a valued member of society again. I’m so happy in myself. I feel like ‘me’ again.