The Co-op Group has agreed terms for a new £45m distribution depot in Bedfordshire.

The new 661,000 sq. ft. depot will be located just off the A1 at Symmetry Park, Biggleswade, and is expected to open in early 2022, in an attempt to support the retailer’s ambitions for continued growth across London, the South and South East.

Co-op Retail ceo Jo Whitfield said: “This is a vital step in our journey to get closer to our customers’ and their shopping needs by offering the products they want and care about from stores which are closer to where they live. The new site will extend capacity across our logistics network.

“This will help stores to better serve communities and support our ambitious growth plans across London, the South and South East. This is an exciting development, we believe a strong Co-op can create stronger communities and the investment is indicative of both the performance of the Co-op and the delivery of our food strategy.”

The Co-op Group, which is set to open 100 new food stores in 2018, has secured a 20-year lease on the 50 acre site, with construction anticipated to commence towards the end of 2019. It is expected to create up to 1,200 jobs.

Supply chain and logistics director Andy Perry said: “The infrastructure and site selection will deliver greater agility, scale and efficiency - improving service and availability at existing stores while building capacity to support our store investment programme and ambitions for continued growth.

“The new site will form part of an integrated review and rebalancing of volumes across our network – it will provide greater scale while future-proofing our operations. The move will reduce road miles, overall supply chain costs and supports our stores in the South by having more of our products closer to our members and customers and the communities in which they live and work.”

The new distribution centre will be developed with low energy lighting and refrigeration, the ability to harvest rainwater and an independent assessment of a building’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.