The Co-operative Group is to invest £20m in a 430,000 sq ft regional distribution centre at Avonmouth serving around 400 food stores in the Bristol, north Somerset and South Wales areas.
The facility is expected to open in early 2012 and will take on the work of a number of existing smaller depots in the region.
The group identified the need for a new regional distribution depot in its strategic review of its logistics network following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain last year.
The new site will employ about 1,000 people. Staff at The Co-op’s existing depots in the region will be offered the opportunity to transfer to the new site, and it is hoped that as many as possible will do so.
Once it is fully operational, the Avonmouth depot will replace the existing Co-operative distribution centre at Chelston, near Wellington, and will take on the operations currently run by Wincanton, on behalf of The Co-operative Group, at Portbury, near Bristol, and at Bridgwater.
Regional head of logistics Mark Leonard said: “The acquisition of Somerfield, with its many stores in South Wales and in and around Bristol, meant we needed a regional distribution centre in a location from where we could provide our enlarged store estate with an excellent service. Avonmouth is ideally located for serving both South Wales and the South West, and provides us with the scope we need to develop a major distribution centre.
“We hope as many staff as possible at these locations will be able to transfer to Avonmouth once it is operational.”
The acquisition of Somerfield in March 2009 made the Co-op the UK’s fifth largest food retailer.