Waitrose has postponed the opening of its £35m distribution centre at Leyland in Lancashire until the summer of next year.
The original plan had been to start phasing in the RDC this summer, but the retailer’s forecasts showed that it did not need the site to be at full capacity until 2013.
The site is needed to support Waitrose’s growth in the north. Eight years ago the retailer did not have any stores north of Nottinghamshire, now it has 21 stores in the north of England and four in Scotland.
Its existing regional distribution centres are in: Bracknell, Berkshire; Aylesford, Kent; Brinklow, Buckinghamshire and Bardon, Leicestershire.
Waitrose reached an agreement with Evander Properties and British Airways Pension Fund to develop and lease the 30 acre warehouse site in Leyland in March 2011. Under the agreement, the brownfield site, a former BAE defence systems site, is receiving investment totalling nearly £35m.
Evander Properties is developing the new buildings with funding from British Airways Pension Fund and Waitrose will fit out the warehouse and picking equipment. When opened the RDC is expected to employ 600 people.
Supply chain director David Jones, said: “We are making a major investment in Leyland and will be creating hundreds of new jobs for local people when we open in 2013. Although we hadn’t advertised any jobs yet, I know there may be people who will be disappointed by this slight delay but I can assure them we’ll be starting our recruitment campaign at the end of this year. The north west is a great place to do business and we are committed to growth in the region.”
Waitrose plans to open at least 20 new shops in 2012, including a 30,000 sq ft store in Walton-le-Dale on 2 February 2012, creating nearly 200 new jobs for the area.
In addition, it has drawn up plans for new supermarkets in Northwich and Chester and has submitted planning applications for two new stores in Scotland.