Wal-Mart's UK supermarket chain Asda today (Thursday) announced a £600 million (US$1.1 billion) expansion, to create 6,000 new jobs in at least 15 new stores and 20 major investment schemes in existing locations.

"The new openings in 2005 demonstrate Asda's flexible approach to new stores, with a variety of small, medium and large supermarkets, five non-food outlets and a variety of mixed use and town centre regeneration schemes," the company said.

"Our increasingly flexible approach to store formats, town centre and mixed use regeneration schemes is helping us deliver an excellent investment and job creation programme for 2005," said Judith McKenna, Asda's chief financial officer.

Work had begun this morning on a Asda's 20th  'supercentre' in the southern English city of Milton Keynes, which will cover 100,000 square feet. In all the company plans to add a million square feet of extra sales space this year