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Co-op given green light for new southern distribution centre

Supermarket Co-op is set to open a new regional distribution centre (DC) in 2022 after gaining planning consent for the site.

Situated just off the A1 at Symmetry Park, Biggleswade, the 661,000 sq ft facility is expected to create up to 1,200 jobs, and Co-op has secured a 20-year lease for the location.

The site represents the first pre-let development from the db Symmetry strategic land portfolio acquired by Tritax Big Box REIT in February 2019. Contracts were originally exchanged between db Symmetry and the retailer in November 2018, conditional on full planning consent.

Andy Perry, supply chain & logistics director at Co-op, commented: “The infrastructure and site selection will deliver greater agility, scale and efficiency – improving service and availability at existing stores while building capacity to support our store investment programme and ambitions for continued growth.

“The new site will provide greater scale while future-proofing our operations. The move will reduce road miles and overall supply chain costs while supporting our new and existing stores in the south and south-east of England by having more of our products closer to our members and customers and the communities in which they live and work.”

While one retailer DC looks set to create jobs, another is shedding them. Online-only grocer Ocado revealed over the weekend that the recent fire at its heavily automated warehouse in Andover, Hampshire will potentially lead to hundreds of job losses.

The supermarket and tech company had originally aimed to find an alternative site, locally, but will now start rebuilding at the same location.

“In light of the fact that the rebuild of Andover customer fulfilment centre will take at least two years to complete, it is with immense regret that we have commenced a formal consultation process,” an Ocado spokesperson noted in a statement.

“We would like to thank all of our colleagues for their hard work and we will provide them with all the support we can during this process.”

Ocado said 400 of the 850 jobs in Andover were at risk, adding that it hoped it could re-hire any affected employees in the future.

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