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Jobs boom as Co-op announces plans for £45m distribution centre

The new 661,000 sq ft depot is expected to open in early 2022, creating up to 1,200 jobs.

It will support the retailer’s ambitions for continued growth across London, the South and South East. The Co-op is on track to open 100 new food stores in 2018.

Symmetry Park, Biggleswade, which extends to around 50 acres, was purchased by developer db symmetry in the summer of 2017 and has subsequently been granted detailed planning consent for up to one million square feet logistics space. 

Co-op has secured a 20-year lease on the site and expects construction work to begin towards the end of 2019.

Central Bedfordshire Council has welcomed the news, saying that the Co-op scheme will generate more than £90 million in investment value.

The Co-op’s retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “This is a vital step in our journey to get closer to our customers and their shopping needs.

“The new site will extend capacity across our logistics network. This will help stores to better serve communities and support our ambitious growth plans across London, the South and South East.

“This is an exciting development, we believe a strong Co-op can create stronger communities and the investment is indicative of both the performance of the Co-op and the delivery of our food strategy.”

Symmetry Park is part of the Stratton Park industrial estate, on which are based companies such as Leibherr, Jewers Doors, Jordan’s Dorset Ryvita, Smiths Metal Centres, Brinkley Propellers and Quest Automotive.

Recent arrivals include City Electrical Factors, the UK’s largest electrical wholesaler, and the female fashion brand Apricot, both of whom have now started to move into their sites on Phase 5. Zeus Packaging has chosen Phase 4 for its UK headquarters. 

Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive member for regeneration Cllr Nigel young said: “We are delighted to welcome businesses of this calibre to Biggleswade. These new contracts are a signal that Stratton Park is emerging as a thriving strategic employment and logistics site within Central Bedfordshire.

“The park is set to provide many more job opportunities for the residents of Biggleswade and the surrounding area, both now and in the future. 

The Co-op’s supply chain and logistics director Andy Perry said: “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 form part of an integrated review and rebalancing of volumes across our network. It will provide greater scale while future-proofing our operations. The move will reduce road miles, overall supply chain costs and supports our stores in the South by having more of our products closer to our members and customers and the communities in which they live and work.”

In August the Co-op also opened a £6 million distribution centre at Inverness Airport Business Park in Scotland. 

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