Supermarket Waitrose is to invest £1 billion over the next three years by opening 100 new stores and creating 10,000 jobs, it was announced today.
Mark Price, Managing Director of the grocer, announced the move yesterday in a speech to Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
Around 3,000 of these jobs will be created in the north of England and Scotland, as the retailer focuses on building on its strong base in the south of the UK.
An expansion drive during the last six months has already seen the chain open seven stores in the north-west, seven in Yorkshire, three in the north-east and several in Scotland.
The development includes the opening of a £35 million regional distribution centre (RDC) in Chorley, which will create 600 new jobs in the area.
Price explained the importance of the move and welcomed the building on the 30-acre site.
He commented: “This new distribution centre will support the growth of our business, be a boost for the north-west, create 600 new jobs for the region and make it possible for us to invest £1 billion in Britain over the next three years.
“The new shops we are now planning will mean 10,000 more jobs and £1 billion of additional business going to producers, farmers and growers in the British food industry.”
Waitrose’s 360,000 sq ft Chorley warehouse, 50,000sq ft of office space and accompanying vehicle maintenance unit will allow the supermarket to service up to 80 branches as part of its rapidly growing portfolio of shops in the north of England and Scotland.
Cameron reacted positively to the news, as Price pointed out that the new RDC is expected to be fully operational by autumn 2012.
“This £1 billion investment is great news for the north of England and the country as a whole,” said the Prime Minister.
“The new regional distribution centre will give a boost to Chorley and the surrounding areas, not just by creating 600 jobs immediately, but in paving the way for tens of thousands more.”