Waitrose has plans for a new regional distribution centre (RDC) which will create up to 600 jobs and provide a platform for the chain’s future expansion within the North of England and Scotland.
Subject to planning consent, Waitrose has reached an agreement with Evander Properties and British Airways Pension Fund to develop and lease a 30 acre warehouse site in Chorley, Lancashire. Under this agreement, the brownfield site, a former BAE defence systems site, would receive investment totalling nearly £35m. Evander Properties will develop the new buildings with funding from British Airways Pension Fund and Waitrose would fit out the warehouse and picking equipment. Waitrose would then lease the site from BA Pension Fund for 25 years.
The 360,000 sq.ft. warehouse, 50,000 sq.ft. of office space and a vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to service up to 80 branches as part of its rapidly growing portfolio of shops in the North of England and Scotland.
David Jones, Waitrose’s Supply Chain Director, said: “We’re delighted to be making such a significant investment in the North West and creating up to 600 new jobs for the region.”
In the short-term, the new RDC will support the supermarket’s plans to double its estate in the North within the next 3-5years. Until six years ago the most northerly Waitrose store was in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Waitrose has since embarked on a big period of expansion in its history, including opening seven stores in the North West, seven in Yorkshire, three in the North East and three in Scotland.
Waitrose currently has 247 branches open across the UK including 14 convenience stores.
The new site would become the supermarket’s fifth regional distribution centre to support its plans to open 25-30 convenience stores and 10 supermarkets across the UK each year. Its current most northerly regional distribution centre at Bardon in Leicestershire is already operating to capacity.
“This new regional distribution centre will provide a vital platform for future expansion and unlock significant opportunities for us to open more shops in the North of England and Scotland,” Jones added.
Over the coming weeks Waitrose will reach a decision on whether to manage the new warehousing space itself or through a third party logistics specialist.
A planning application for the new RDC will be submitted to South Ribble Council on 6th April 2011. The recruitment process for drivers, warehouse operatives, office and catering staff is likely to begin in spring 2012.
– IndiaRetailing Bureau