A NEW £9million warehouse will secure more than 400 jobs at a major food firm.
The extension to the distribution centre at PepsiCo, in Peterlee, is good news for the long-term future of the site.
It is expected to cut back the distance its transport fleet covers by more than 372,800 miles a year.
The new warehouse, which employs 68 workers, has tripled the size of storage at the North East Industrial Estate.
The plant handles some of the crisps and snacks produced by neighbouring and sister factory Walkers, which has 367 staff.
It also handles Quakers Oats – another brand owned by PepsiCo.
The extension was officially unveiled yesterday.
Jane Burkitt, PepsiCo UK’s senior supply chain director, said: “This will secure the long- term future of site and this event signals that, rather than job creation.
“We’re seeing impressive growth across our brands, including Quaker Oats, which we store here in Peterlee.”
The new loading bay has been designed to take double-decker trucks, which will allow it to cut the number of trips made to distribute stock.
The firm is also to take on new extra-long lorries and the yard of the £9.3million Peterlee Regional Distribution Centre has been reinforced to take their weight.
Ms Burkitt said the warehouse, which was completed in 362 days, would help the Quaker Oats porridge brand continue to expand and keep up with growing demand, with sales up 22 per cent in the last three years.
A series of environmentally-friendly features were included in the new building, including rainwater harvested fleet wash for its vehicles, energy efficient cranes to moves stock in and out, low-heating requirements and lighting which responds to need.
Construction waste created during the building work was recycled to build an on-site allotment so workers can grow their own fruit and vegetables.
It will also help the firm hit its zero-waste for landfill target.
Easington MP Grahame Morris said: “I’m delighted that this significant investment signals PepsiCo’s continued commitment to Peterlee and the 400 people it employs in the area.
“I also welcome the green initiatives that will ensure this is an environmentally, as well as economically sustainable, investment.”