The construction of a £35m regional distribution centre in Lancashire is first phase of a 100-store expansion plan

A new Waitrose distribution centre has received the prime ministerial blessing after the firm’s managing director described the plans to David Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference.

Mark Price told the prime minster the new £35m regional distribution centre (RDC) in Chorley, Lancashire would create up to 600 jobs. It will also enable Waitrose to open 100 shops and create 10,000 new jobs (3,000 of them in the north) over the next three years.

Mr Price said today: “This new distribution centre will support the growth of our business, be a boost for the North West, create 600 new jobs for the region and make it possible for us to invest £1bn in Britain over the next three years.”

“The new shops we are now planning will mean 10,000 more jobs and one billion pounds of additional business going to producers, farmers and growers in the British food industry.”

David Cameron said: “This billion pound investment is great news for the north of England and the country as a whole.”

“The new regional distribution centre will give a boost to Chorley and the surrounding areas, not just by creating 600 jobs immediately, but in paving the way for tens of thousands more.”

Until six years ago the most northerly Waitrose store was in Newark, Nottinghamshire, but a dedicated expansion programme launched since then has seen the company open seven stores in the North West, seven in Yorkshire, three in the North East and several in Scotland.   

The 360,000ft² Chorley warehouse, 50,000ft² of office space and a vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to service up to 80 branches as part of its rapidly growing portfolio of shops.

The RDC should be functional by autumn 2012, and the recruitment process for drivers, warehouse operatives, office and catering staff will begin in spring 2012.