£35m Waitrose plan is launched

The Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Jim Marsh, performs the ground breaking ceremony at the site of the Waitrose distribution centre on Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village
The Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Jim Marsh, performs the ground breaking ceremony at the site of the Waitrose distribution centre on Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village
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The first sod of grass has been cut on a £35m project by a supermarket giant to bring more than 600 jobs to the Chorley and South Ribble area.

Officials from retailer Waitrose were joined by members of South Ribble Council for the ceremony at the site of a new distribution centre in Buckshaw Village.

The 360,000sq foot warehouse and 50,000sq foot office space on the former BAE Systems site will serve the retailer’s 80 branches across the North of England and Scotland.

It follows news that Waitrose plan to open 10 more stores and bring 1,500 jobs to the North West.

David Jones, Waitrose Supply Chain Director, believes the distribution centre and also a store in Walton-le-Dale are exciting opportunities for local people.

He said: “This depot in Buckshaw Village will allow us to move our stock more efficiently and also give us the chance to expand the number of stores we have in the North West.

“In the past our furthest north distribution centre was at Barden in Nottingham which made it difficult to transport supplies to Scotland.

“We want to open at least 10 shops in the next five years but we don’t know for sure where they are going to be.

“The first one will be opening in Walton-le-dale in February which will provide up to 200 jobs.

“We are looking to recruit people from the area and even though Waitrose is a national chain there is an opening for local suppliers to get on the shelves.”

The scheme comes just weeks after the train station opened its doors.

In August, the Guardian reported that developers Eden Park were looking to start work on office space and commercial properties including cafes and hairdressers near the Tesco store at the other side of the village.

Phil Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration on South Ribble Council, said: “This is great news for everybody especially on the employment side of things as Waitrose are a well respected organisation.

“They is a lack of businesses deciding to expand their operations but this is positive for the North West and South Ribble in particular.”

Diggers and contractors have been flattening the 30-acre warehouse plot for the distribution centre in Chorley and it is expected to open by autumn 2012 creating 600 jobs.

Jamie McGregor, committee member of the Buckshaw Village Community Association, said: “One of the biggest concerns for people locally is that there were a lot of projects that were promised but through time they have not come to fruition.

“Since the train station has opened there has been sudden surge of activity and they are starting to come to a head which is exciting news.

“We will be working with South Ribble Council and Waitrose to facilitate the employment process by holding open day so that local people can get jobs.”