Waitrose has announced plans for a new regional distribution centre to be built on a former BAE defence systems site in Chorley, Lancashire.
Subject to planning consent, the food retailer said it has reached an agreement with Evander Properties and British Airways Pension Fund to develop and lease the 30-acre site which will provide a platform for the chain's future expansion within the north of England and Scotland.
Under the agreement, the site would receive investment totalling nearly £35m. Evander Properties will develop the new buildings with funding from British Airways Pension Fund and Waitrose would fit out the warehouse and picking equipment. Waitrose would then lease the site from BA Pension Fund for 25 years.
The 360,000 sq ft warehouse, 50,000 sq ft of office space, and a vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to service up to 80 branches in portfolio across the north of England and Scotland.
The new site would become the Waitrose's fifth regional distribution centre to support its plans to open 25-30 convenience stores and ten supermarkets across the UK each year. The food retailer has a regional distribution centre at Bardon in Leicestershire already operating to capacity.
David Jones, Waitrose's supply chain director, said: "We're delighted to be making such a significant investment in the North West and creating up to 600 new jobs for the region.
"We've made no secret of our plans to take the Waitrose brand to more people in more places and we're currently still under represented in the north, a key area for our growth ambitions.
"This new regional distribution centre will provide a vital platform for future expansion and unlock significant opportunities for us to open more shops in the North of England and Scotland."
Over the coming weeks Waitrose will reach a decision on whether to manage the new warehousing space itself or through a third party logistics specialist.
A planning application for the new regional distribution centre will be submitted to Chorley Council on 6 April.
If given consent, the new regional distribution centre will be up and running by autumn 2012. The recruitment process for drivers, warehouse operatives, office and catering staff is likely to begin in spring 2012.
The Manchester office of Colliers international acted for Waitrose.