The Co-operative Group has set out plans for a new regional distribution centre in the North Midlands, which will complete the overhaul of its food logistics network following its acquisition of Somerfield in 2009.
No decision has yet been made on a location for the facility, but it is expected to be near the M1 in either Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire.
It will replace two smaller depots at Alfreton and Nottingham, and will provide jobs for around 900 people.
The distribution centre, expected to become operational during 2012, will be the final stage of The Co-operative Group’s major review of its food distribution network.
Trevor Ashworth, director of food retail supply chain, said: “The Co-operative Group’s food business has grown significantly in recent years. We now have nearly 3,000 stores across the UK, and, including stores operated by other co-operative societies, we deliver to around 4,000, so it was important for our logistics operation to develop accordingly.”
New regional distribution hubs have already been opened at Birtley in County Durham, Thurrock in Essex, and, most recently, at Lea Green on Merseyside.
Plans have been submitted for a regional distribution centre at Avonmouth, near Bristol, while other new sites, at Newhouse in Scotland and Andover in Hampshire, are currently being built.
Norbert Dentressangle has been awarded a contract to run transport operations at Andover, when it becomes operational later this year. Warehouse operations at Andover will be operated in-house by The Co-operative Group. The new sites at Avonmouth and Newhouse will be operated in-house.
As a result of these changes, existing depots, at Halesowen, Peterborough and Thetford, will close during the next 18 months. More than 500 people are employed at the three sites and the group says it is making efforts to redeploy as many as possible. Once all the new sites are operational, they will mean a net gain of around 350 jobs.
“The changes we have already made, along with those we are now planning, will ensure we can continue to provide an excellent service for all our stores and our customers, while at the same time allowing for further growth,” said Ashworth.
“At the end of this stage of the process we will have an efficient and modern logistics network that will reflect The Co-operative’s position as one of the UK’s ‘big five’ food retailers, and there will be a net gain of around 350 jobs.”