An impression of what the Lancashire distribution centre will look like

An impression of what the Lancashire distribution centre will look like

UK grocery operator Waitrose has revealed plans to open a regional distribution centre in Chorley, Lancashire.

The retailer said yesterday (30 March) that the new distribution centre will provide a platform for its future expansion within the north of England and Scotland.

The 360,000 square foot warehouse, 50,000 square foot office space and vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to service up to 80 branches and create some 600 new jobs.

It said that in the short-term, the distribution centre will support the supermarket's plans to double its estate in the North within the next three to five years.

Waitrose said that over the past six years, it has opened seven stores in the North West, seven in Yorkshire, three in the North East and three in Scotland.

The retailer said it will decide in the coming weeks whether to manage the new warehousing space itself or through a third party logistics specialist.

Waitrose said that the 30-acre former BAE defence systems site will receive investment totalling nearly GBP35m (US$56.4m), with Evander Properties to develop the new buildings with funding from the British Airways Pension Fund. Waitrose will fit out the warehouse and picking equipment. The retailer will lease the site from the BA Pension fund for 25 years.

Waitrose supply chain director David Jones said: "We've made no secret of our plans to take the Waitrose brand to more people in more places and we're currently still under represented in the north, a key area for our growth ambitions. 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."

The new distribution centre remains subject to planning consent, however, the retailer expects the distribution centre to be up and running by August 2012.