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Asda reveals plans to create 5,000 new jobs

Retailer will open 25 stores, refurbish 43 existing outlets and invest in three new depots in 2012

Asda, the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, has announced plans to create around 5,000 jobs in a £500m expansion drive this year.

The retailer’s plans, welcomed by the prime minister, David Cameron, will see it open 25 stores, refurbish 43 existing outlets and invest in three new depots in 2012.

Asda said it would 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 after acquiring the discount chain.

It said nearly half the jobs it created last year had gone to young people, who are currently facing high unemployment, while 8,500 jobs went to people who had signed up through Job Centre Plus.

The supermarket, 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 will be a real boost for the economy and, more importantly, for people around Britain seeking jobs.

“I also welcome Asda’s commitment to not only create jobs but invest in their staff too, offering employees the chance to join an apprenticeship scheme to gain skills which will benefit them throughout their career.”

The majority of the new stores will be smaller supermarketsm but the 600,000sq ft of new space will also be made up of superstores and Asda Living non-food outlets.

Asda – owned by the world’s biggest retailer, the US-based Walmart – will also open a new depot in Rochdale, replace a depot in Grangemouth, Falkirk, to serve Scotland and Northern Ireland, and revamp a former Netto centre in South Elmsall, Yorkshire.

It has already opened a store in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, this year but also plans outlets in Bootle, on Merseyside, Coventry, Gateshead, Harworth, Mitcham, in south London, Ramsgate, Shepshed, in Leicestershire, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, Worcester, and Worthing.

Its plans for Scotland will see it open stores in Inverness and Tain, in the Highlands, and Larkhall, in South Lanarkshire. It will also open a store in Bangor, Wales

Asda, which has pledged to be 10% cheaper than rivals in a supermarket price war, recently reported that customers were shopping less frequently but spending more in a bid to overcome high petrol prices.

Its most recent like-for-like sales figures, excluding VAT and fuel, increased by 1.3% between 1 July and 30 September but it has yet to update on the Christmas period, which saw rival Tesco issue a profits warning. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds