Supermarket giant Waitrose has announced plans for a new regional distribution centre in Chorley which will create up to 600 new jobs.
The upmarket food chain said the centre will be the first step in plans for a major expansion across the North West.
Waitrose bosses struck a deal this week to develop and lease a 30-acre warehouse plot at a former BAE Systems site at Matrix Park, Buckshaw Village.
The 360,000sq ft warehouse, 50,000sq ft of office space and a vehicle maintenance unit will allow Waitrose to service up to 80 branches across the North of England and Scotland as part of a £35m investmnent.
A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted to Chorley Council by early next month.
If approved, the centre should open next year in the autumn, with recruitment for new drivers, warehouse operatives, office and catering staff likely to start in the spring.
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.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said Waitrose’s plans were a welcome boost for the town.
He said: “This is a major investment for Chorley and a commitment from Waitrose.
“It proves Chorley is strategically well-placed to do business.”
Under the new deal, 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.
Waitrose was granted planning permission by South Ribble Council last year for a new superstore at the Capitol Centre in Walton-le-Dale - its first in Lancashire.
The firm hopes to double its estate in the north over the next five years, as part of wider plans to open 10 supermarkets and up to 30 smaller convenience stores a year across the UK.