The Co-op has agreed terms for a new £45m distribution depot to support the retailer’s ambitions for continued growth across London, the South and South East.
The new 661,000 sq. ft. depot - to be located just off the A1 at Bedfordshire’s Symmetry Park, Biggleswade – is expected to open in early 2022 creating up to 1,200 jobs.
The Co-op is on track to open 100 new food stores in 2018, with its convenience strategy - getting closer to its members and customers, what they want, when and where they need it - playing a fundamental part in the community retailer’s four-and-a-half years of consecutive like for like growth.
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 1M sq. ft. of logistics space. Co-op has secured a 20-year lease on the site. It is anticipated that construction will commence towards the end of 2019.
Jo Whitfield, Retail CEO, Co-op, (pictured) said, “This is a vital step in our journey to get closer to our customers’ and their shopping needs by offering the products they want and care about from stores which are closer to where they live.
'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.”
Andy Perry, Supply Chain & Logistics Director, Co-op, 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.”
Reducing its environmental impact is also at the core of Co-op efforts, and the new distribution centre will be developed with a number of features including low energy lighting and refrigeration, the ability to harvest rainwater and, working towards a BREEAM Excellent rating, an independent assessment of a building’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.
In August the Co-op also opened a new £6M distribution centre at Inverness Airport Business Park (IABP), its new Dalcross facility is now servicing the Co-op’s extensive network of stores in the region, and will also facilitate future store expansion across the Highlands of Scotland.