Work will grind to a halt on retail centre

Put on hold: Waitrose supply chain director, David Jones, at the site of the Waitrose distribution centre on Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village

Put on hold: Waitrose supply chain director, David Jones, at the site of the Waitrose distribution centre on Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village

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A £35m project to bring supermarket giant Waitrose to Chorley and Leyland has been put on hold.

The 400,000 sq ft distribution centre on Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village, was due to open in September in a move that would bring around 600 jobs to the area.

Supply chain director David Jones said the company had abandoned plans to open the centre and service a small number of stores towards the end of the year, and would instead look to open by summer 2013.

Mr Jones said: “We have looked at our capacity and decided that we don’t need it (the distribution centre) this year.

“We will instead take it into 2013 and will start recruiting for staff in November and December of this year.”

Work on the centre, which is now well underway, will grind to a halt in April before starting again at the end of the year in order to train staff.

Waitrose is due to open its latest store at the Capitol Centre in Walton-le-Dale on February 2.

Mr Jones said despite the setback the company were still committed to investing in the area.

He said: “Instead of just starting off gradually in September we’re hitting the ground running to be fully operational in May, and we’re really looking forward to it.

“We call it a short and fat project rather than a long and thin one.

“As a business we’re doing really well and this investment is going to be really important to us.

“There is a great skills set here and looking at the pool of people, it’s what we want.

“This is a big, long-term commitment for Waitrose. We have a 25 year lease for that site so it’s a really important part of our network. It also gives us more opportunity to grow sites.”

When fully operational the distribution centre could serve up to 100 stores.

At the moment, the distribution centre furthest north for Waitrose is in Barden, Nottingham.

Mr Jones said: “Although we don’t need the distribution centre this year, we will do next.

“We are looking forward to serving the local community and I think there’s a lot of potential here because of the skills base.

“We need somewhere to distribute efficiently and we’re really happy to invest in the region.”