Waitrose has set out plans for a regional distribution centre in Chorley, as part of a £35million investment in the North of England and Scotland.
The supermarket has signed a deal with Evander Properties to take a 30-acre plot at a former BAE Systems site at Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village.
David Jones, Waitrose’s supply chain director, 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.”
The 360,000sq ft warehouse, 50,000sq ft of office space and a vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to serve up to 80 branches across the North of England and Scotland. The new centre could create up to 600 new jobs.
Waitrose has still to decide whether to manage the new warehousing space itself or through a third party.
A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted to Chorley council in the next few weeks, and if approved, the distribution centre should open in autumn 2012.
Under the deal, Evander Properties will develop the buildings with funding from British Airways Pension Fund. Waitrose will fit out the warehouse and picking equipment. Waitrose will then lease the site from BA Pension Fund for 25 years.
Last year Waitrose was granted planning permission by South Ribble council for a store at the Capitol Centre in Walton-le-Dale – its first in Lancashire.
The firm hopes to double its estate in the north over the next five years, as part of wider plans to open ten supermarkets and up to 30 smaller convenience stores a year across the UK.
Alastair Walker, section manager, food service at Waitrose Morningside in Edinburgh, said: “It’s what we’ve been waiting for. We’ve always known a northern RDC would be our gateway to Scotland. It will definitely help us forge further north.”