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Firms create 400 new county jobs

Oxfordshire has been given a boost of more than 400 jobs as three firms set up new businesses in the county.

There are new posts with caterers Booker Group plc in Didcot, with online supermarket Ocado in Stanford in the Vale, and at a new Wilkinson store in Bicester.

In Didcot, Booker Group plc is creating up to 200 jobs with a new catering distribution centre.

The 250,000 sq ft centre off Basil Hill Road will supply restaurants and catering chains.

Booker spokesman Melanie Balmer said the Chef Direct operation was seeking new contracts.

She added that the firm hoped 200 staff could be employed by June, once the new venture became fully operational.

Didcot mayor Phil Hayward said: “This is fantastic news for the town and I hope Didcot people get some of the jobs. Booker is a big national company so it’s good news that they want to build a new distribution centre here.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the firm said: “Chef Direct will serve major food service customers from a state-of-the-art distribution centre in Didcot.

“The Didcot operation is currently being fitted out and Chef Direct will start trading in June.”

On the same day as the Booker announcement, online supermarket Ocado opened a new 2.3-acre distribution centre in White Horse Business Park in Stanford in the Vale, near Wantage, creating up to 170 new jobs.

The site, featuring 43,000 sq ft of warehouse and office space, will allow Ocado to process up to 10,000 orders a week at peak capacity, with 65 delivery vans.

It opened yesterday with a team of 55 staff and 15 vans and expects to make 1,600 deliveries in its first week.

Ocado delivers its own label range and Waitrose goods.

Chief executive officer Tim Steiner said: “We are delighted to be in Oxfordshire extending and enhancing Ocado’s quality service, as well as generating vital local jobs.”

Home and garden chain Wilkinson has announced it is opening a new store in Bicester, creating 63 jobs.

The 15,000 sq ft store will be on the site of the former Somerfield in Market Square. It will open on Thursday, February 16.

Store manager Duncan South said: “We are also proud to be creating 63 new jobs for local people and building a knowledgeable and professional team.”

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