Food giant Nestle is to spend GBP55m (US$72.6m) on a new, highly-automated warehouse in the UK.

The Swiss-based company said the facility, near East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire, will give customers faster, more efficient access to its products.

It is calling the transport and distribution centre a “digital warehouse of the future”.

The KitKat maker is taking a 638,000 sq site at the new Segro East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park. It is working with transport and logistics specialist XPO Logistics to create the distribution centre.

It will be occupied predominantly by Nestle to distribute its goods, but will also be used to test new technology developed by XPO.

The new warehouse will open in 2020. It will feature advanced sorting systems and robotics alongside “state-of-the-art” automation co-developed with Swisslog Logistics Automation. The site’s digital ecosystem will integrate predictive data and intelligent machines to deliver what Nestle describes as one of the most advanced distribution management centres in the world.

David Hix, director of supply chain at Nestle’s UK business, said: “This is a world-first investment for Nestle that builds on a century and a half of proud history in this country. Our partnership with XPO will encourage innovation and experimentation in our UK logistics operations and help future-proof our business. We will be able to be even more responsive for our customers across our brands.”