Supermarket giant Asda has received government backing for its plans to invest over £500 million in new outlets and depots in 2012, it was revealed today.
Asda plans to open 25 new stores and three distribution centres during the year, creating around 5,000 new jobs, a move Prime Minister David Cameron has described as a “real boost for the economy”.
Government figures released last week showed UK unemployment had risen to 2.685 million in the three months to November and the percentage of 16-24 year olds unemployed increased to 22.3 per cent.
Last year more than 30,000 new employees joined the grocery chain, which is owned by US retailer Walmart, and of these 14,000 were young people and over 8,500 were recruited through Job Centre Plus.
Continued investment in infrastructure and staff by Asda comes at a time when even the most successful businesses within the retail sector are under-pressure from low consumer spending, and some big name brands such as Peacocks have been forced into administration.
Cameron said: “The additional investment and 5,000 new jobs announced by Asda today will be a real boost for the economy and more importantly for people around Britain seeking jobs.
“I also welcome Asda’s commitment to not only create jobs, but invest in their staff too; offering employees the chance to join an apprenticeship scheme to gain skills which will benefit them throughout their career.”
The three new depots are based in Rochdale, Scotland & Yorkshire, and are set to greatly improve the trader’s distribution networks in these parts of the UK.
Along with the new builds, Asda will also be refurbishing 43 of its existing stores over the next 12 months.
President & CEO of Asda Andy Clarke commented: “I am delighted to be able to start 2012 on such a positive note, doing what we do best - creating new jobs, working with new communities and bringing Asda’s low prices to families who need the value we can bring.
“I look forward to seeing these new stores and depots open for business and welcoming new colleagues and customers to our team.”