Fareham student takes on Co-op after shop rejected her

Victoria Nightingale. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (141751-177)
Victoria Nightingale. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (141751-177)

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TEENAGER Victoria Nightingale has spoken of her outrage after a supermarket manager told her it was down to her age that she did not get a job.

The 16-year-old applied for a job at the new Co-operative store in Stubbington, which opened on May 29.

She was one of 88 people interviewed out of 300 applicants that were vying for 36 positions at the store.

Victoria, an A-Level student at Portsmouth High School, said she felt misled by the store manager Nick Bailey who took her uniform size, bank details and complimented her ‘superior retail knowledge’ during the interview.

Miss Nightingale, from Fareham, said: ‘After chasing him up, he told me that no 16 year olds were successful.

‘He told me it would be problem in his Co-op but not in others.’

The teenager complained to the Co-op and it arranged a meeting with HR manager Fiona Wheelan, operations manager Steve Brown, Victoria and her mother.

Victoria, who has since secured a part-time job at Sainsbury’s, said she was upset further by the meeting.

She claims she was called ‘stroppy’ and ‘unjustified’ in the meeting and felt intimidated.

She said: ‘It was disgusting. My mum was furious with the way they spoke to me.’

The operations manager wrote to her afterwards to say that while he was disappointed with the way the store manager handled her application and would be retraining him, he was correct in recruiting a mix of ages because of restrictions of under-18s serving alcohol or cigarettes.

A spokesperson for The Co-op said the Stubbington store had employed three people under the age of 18.

They said: ‘We’re sorry that Miss Nightingale feels unhappy following a recent application to join our new store team in Stubbington.

‘We agree that the feedback provided should have been handled better and we have apologised.

‘We strongly refute any suggestion that we treat young applicants less favourably, we need a blend of people to serve the community and a number of the successful applicants are aged under 18.’

Miss Nightingale said: ‘It’s not that I did not get the job, it’s the way they handled it.’