THOUSANDS of job hunters have descended on to a recruitment fair in Whiteley.
Around 500 people registered within the first hour in the hope of finding a job at the new Whiteley Shopping Centre.
Over 20 different companies are looking for staff to work in their businesses when the new centre opens on May 23.
Whiteley Shopping Centre Manager Neil Carter said: ‘It’s been brilliant we have had a great response from the people of Whiteley and to the recruitment fair. We have had over 2,000 people pre-register and we think we will have seen around 4,000 people by the end of the day.’
Carol Bramley, 55, from Westend in Southampton, was the first through the doors and first in the queue at 8am. She said: ‘Everything you read and hear these days says that there are hundreds of applicants for every job going, so I thought that with the fair opening at 10am, I best get here early so that if I had to queue, it would be at the start of the day.’
Jobs were on offer from a range of well-known retailers including the Body Shop, Dean’s Diner, The Entertainer, Topshop, Holland and Barrett, Starbucks and Next.
Catering and hospitality students from Highbury College, Olivia Hunt, 16, Tasha Franklin and Jess Franklin, 22, were hoping to get experience in the industry to complement their studies.
Tasha, 25, said: ‘We are just trying to get a foot in the door.’
Harvester restaurants were looking for the most amount of staff, manager James Gates said he would like to find 45 staff at the fair.
Local company Montagu’s wine bar and bistro were also looking for staff for their new business venture. The company was formed just two weeks ago and is part of catering company Fresh to Desk, which is based in the Solent Business Park.
Director David Williams, from Burlesdon, said: ‘It was very competitive to get in to the shopping centre. They only told us last Thursday that we were successful, so now we need to recruit a team of people so that we are ready in time for the opening.’
Job hunters queued around the building and the car park at the Solent Hotel was full.
Other hopefuls had come from all over the area.
Ethan Edwards, 19, from Southsea, has been out of work for six months. He said: ‘There’s a lot of opportunities here. It’s a good opportunity to talk to employers face to face.’
Katie Kelly, from Gosport, was being kept company in the queue by her mum, Julie Kelly.
Katie, 22, said: ‘We had to park about a mile away and walk.’
Julie, 41, said: ‘I didn’t think it would be this busy, it’s like the X-Factor!’