M&S port centre to create 700 jobs
High street giant Marks & Spencer is to build a new distribution centre, creating hundreds of jobs.
The 900,000 square foot site will be in the new London Gateway port, which opens later this year on the River Thames in South Essex.
M&S said 700 new jobs will be created under a £200 million investment, with millions of products moving directly from ships to the company's warehousing facility at the adjacent London Gateway logistics park.
Hundreds of workers will also be employed in the construction phase from next year, with the centre due to open in 2016.
Marc Bolland, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, said: "London Gateway will become our third large distribution centre in the UK as we transform our logistics operations into a modern and agile supply chain, fit for the future of M&S.
"As we become an international, multichannel retailer, London Gateway will help us become more efficient by cutting costs and locating our supply chain closer to our stores and our international markets. It will also help us deliver against our Plan A objectives by removing road miles and emissions from our network."
Simon Moore, chief executive of DP World London Gateway, said: "Marks & Spencer will have a world-class distribution centre connected to a world-class deep-sea port providing more reliability and efficiency for its business. By bringing ships carrying millions of products closer to the point of consumption we will help M&S to shorten its supply chain."
The announcement was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited London Gateway.
Mr Cameron said: "It is a pleasure to be here today, and to see the sheer scale of DP World's investment. A site larger than the Olympic Park, cranes taller than the London Eye, a port that will handle three and a half million containers a year. This whole development is an emblem of ambition.
"This is the sort of scene you are used to seeing in developing countries. Enormous new port facilities that will make Britain competitive, that will make our products competitive, that will make sure we are a winner in the global race. This is absolutely the sort of investment we need more of in our country."