Waitrose truck

Waitrose will officially open its £32m Leyland RDC in September, following a phased roll-out from late July.

The RDC, which includes a 360,000ft² warehouse, a vehicle maintenance unit and 50,000ft² of office space, will initially service 42 stores across the north of England and Scotland.

This number is expected to increase to 44 by the end of the year, when stores in Helensburgh, East Scotland and Northwich, Cheshire open.

The site on the Matrix business park in Buckshaw Village, near Leyland in Lancashire, will allow Waitrose to increase the number of stores it operates in the North and Scotland over the next decade. It is expected to have the capacity to serve 100 stores and employ 600 staff once it is fully operational.

Waitrose has taken on 300 staff at the RDC, 200 of which will fill warehouse and driver positions and have already received training.

The predominantly own-account operator received permission to run 199 vehicles and 179 trailers out of the site earlier this year.

Supply chain director David Jones said: “We’ve made a significant investment in Lancashire and are here for the long-term. Waitrose has a target to open up to ten little Waitrose convenience shops and up to ten supermarkets each year and this RDC will play a key role in achieving that.”

Last year, Leicester-based Widdowson Group won a contract with Waitrose to become the first third party to take on the supermarket's Midlands logistics operations.