XPO Logistics is to operate the Waitrose distribution centre in Leyland on behalf of the John Lewis Partnership.

The move is part of a major restructuring by the retailer as it struggles with falling sales, exacerbated by the pandemic, which has seen it recently announce the closure of eight more shops and department stores.

John Lewis said that the Partnership “had reached an agreement with XPO Logistics to operate the Waitrose distribution centre in Leyland, Lancashire, on our behalf”.

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It added that Leyland “remains key to our operations, however, the site remains significantly underused.”

It continued: “The decision safeguards Leyland’s future and secures employment for 436 Waitrose Partners working there who will transfer to XPO this summer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).”

Andrew Murphy, executive director of operations, said: “The agreement announced secures employment at the site and I am confident that, under the stewardship of XPO Logistics, Leyland will go from strength to strength.”