A HUGE jobs boost is coming to Andover after an online supermarket announced it will expand its workforce by a third before the end of the year.

Ocado is looking to employ 200 warehouse operatives for its Customer Fulfilment Centre (CFC) based in Walworth Business Park.

The new staff will bring the total number of people from the area employed by Ocado to around 800.

Kim Lund, Ocado’s human resources manager, said: “We’re thrilled to announce the creation of an additional 200 permanent jobs in Andover ahead of the busy Christmas season.

“We’ve been rapidly expanding our operations at the new CFC over the past year, and these new recruits will be the driving force behind our next stage of growth.”

Economic development and tourism portfolio holder for Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), Councillor David Drew said: “This is great news for Andover.

"We have a good mix of large and small businesses here spanning a range of sectors and these new jobs will bring an additional boost to the local economy.

“Ocado clearly appreciates Andover’s prime location with easy access to the A303 and excellent communications.

“I’m also encouraged that not only are they one of our biggest employers, but also active in the community: they are an asset to Andover.”

Head of policy and representation at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Mark Baulch, said: “It is great to hear that Ocado may be bringing further employment opportunities to the Andover area.

“It will be good for all of the local economy, from retailers, hoteliers and bars to museums and gardens to have the opportunity of a good amount of money being injected into the local economy through the creation of additional jobs.

“It also reinforces the message that Hampshire, and the Test Valley in particular, is a great place to do business and that there continue to be investment opportunities here.”

The firm’s five-storey, 240,000 square foot Andover centre began operations at the end of last year and has an operating capacity of 70,000 orders per week.

It is home to 95 of Ocado’s vans, a dedicated lorry park and 22 trailers.

Warehouse operatives, also known as personal shoppers, pick, pack and despatch customer orders.

The online retail giant said the opening in Andover of the third Ocado CFC last November was fuelled by the retailer’s dramatic expansion, led by ‘soaring’ consumer demand.

Kim Lund added: “We’re committed to helping all our staff enjoy a long and exciting career at Ocado by providing them with the support and training they need.

“We already have schemes in place which recognise loyalty and commitment, and we also place a great emphasis on progression – in fact 20 per cent of personal shoppers hired in the past year have already moved into new roles.”

Jan Hibberd, Ocado personal shopper, said: “I joined the Ocado team here in Andover back in January.

“It’s such an exciting company to be a part of and I love watching it grow.

“My son also joined the company over the summer and loves what he does.”