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Report of new supermarket distribution depot 'speculation'

SUPERMARKET giant Morrisons has dismissed as "speculation" a report that it is to open a massive distribution depot in a part of Kent that would create hundreds of jobs.

It the deal goes ahead, at least 500 jobs could be expected at G.Park, a new 126-acre industrial park close to the M2 at Kemsley, near Sittingbourne.

Trade magazine Property Week claims that Morrisons is poised to sign a deal on a 900,000 sq ft warehouse.

It says it would be the largest-ever distribution "shed" built by Gazeley, a commercial property developer owned by Wal-Mart, the American owner of the rival Asda supermarket chain.

Morrisons is actively looking to change its existing warehousing arrangements and would turn the G.Park operation into its south-east distribution centre.

The magazine said Morrisons was "under offer" for the depot and was poised to sign a pre-let.

But a Morrisons spokeswoman said: "The news of a depot in Sittingborough is simply rumour and speculation. However, our distribution infrastructure, although adequate to deal with our current volumes, will not satisfy our future growth requirements, and is not geographically optimal for serving our southern stores. We will continue to seek further depot capacity in the south to deal with future growth requirements."

Locate in Kent, the agency that promotes the county as a great place for business, held talks with Morrisons more than a year ago about its warehousing needs following a takeover of Safeway.

Morrisons decided not to keep Safeway’s large distribution depot at Forstal Road, Aylesford, and sold it to the John Lewis-owned Waitrose supermarket group.

Paul Wookey, Locate in Kent chief executive, said: "We have had previous discussions with Morrisons and very detailed discussions with Gazeley about their plans at G.Park. The site is ideally placed for that sort of development on that scale, with good motorway connections. I sincerely hope the deal gets done."

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