It is a little known fact that Tesco has roughly twice as many employees as the British Army.
But it is a statistic of concern to top brass in the Forces as they try to recruit 10,000 youngsters every year, 1,100 of them from the West Midlands.
Anti-war sentiment and publicity of soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners have done Army recruitment no favours.
Brigadier Chris Murray, who commands the West Midlands Brigade in Shrewsbury, said: "Our counter-terrorism posture has drawn us behind barbed wire. Soldiers in uniform are now a rare sight. Negative attitudes towards the war in Iraq and the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners have certainly not helped us.
"Generations ago there was a greater understanding of the need to join up to the Army.
"Nonetheless, we don't want just anyone to think about joining the Army or the TA. They have to expect, and want, to go on an operation to a farflung corner of the Earth.
"Our message to young people is that we will give you extra skills, but you have to be determined, loyal, physically robust and mentally strong."
His colleague Lieutenant Colonel John Moody, who is also based at the Shrewsbury barracks, said the Army was particularly in need of highly qualified youngsters.
He said: "We must target teenagers with GCSEs and, in some cases, A-levels. That is a bit of a problem for us.
"The Army no longer has as large a footprint as it used to. We need to tell young men and women that any job done on civilian street can also be done in the Army.
"We have 75 different trades from chef to linguist and from Para to lawyer. People often don't realise that."
More than 400 West Midlands 14 to 18-year-olds have been invited to the Midlands Soldier fairs on each of the five recruitment days this week. The first was yesterday and the last is on Sunday.
Private Mark Harris, from Oswestry, Shropshire, serves with the First Battalion Light Infantry in Paderborn in Germany.
He told youngsters from Ridgewood High School in Stourbridge and Newcastle College in Newcastle-under-Lyme, how he came to consider the Army.
He said: "I looked at my life when I turned 20 and then I looked at what I'd get out of the Army. I have free medical and dental care, have travelled the world and get paid £1,100 a month. There's not one day when I regret my choice."