THE UK's second biggest supermarket, Asda, has unveiled plans to create some 5,000 jobs this year in a £500m expansion drive which will include a new outlet in Gateshead.
Its plans, which were welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron, will see it open 25 stores, refurbish 43 existing outlets and invest in three new depots in 2012.
The chain said it will create up to 5,000 jobs on top of the 30,000 staff it took on last year when it opened about a dozen stores and absorbed 147 Netto sites and their staff following its acquisition of the discount chain.
Asda said nearly half of the jobs it created last year had gone to young people, who are currently battling high unemployment, while 8,500 jobs went to people who had signed up through Job Centre Plus.
The chain, which currently employs more than 180,000 people and runs 528 stores across the UK, also pledged that eligible employees would be given the chance to take City & Guilds apprenticeships.
Cameron said: “The additional investment and 5,000 new jobs announced by Asda today will be a real boost for the economy and more importantly for people around Britain seeking jobs.”
Asda, which is owned by the world’s biggest retailer, US-based Walmart, has already opened a store in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, this year but also plans outlets in Bootle in Merseyside, Coventry, Gateshead, Harworth in Nottinghamshire, Mitcham in London, Ramsgate in Kent, Shepshed in Leicestershire, Todmorden in West Yorkshire, Worcester, and Worthing in West Sussex.
It will also open a new depot in Rochdale, replace a depot in Grangemouth, Falkirk, revamp a centre in Yorkshire, open three stores in Scotland and open a new store in Bangor in Wales.