Asda is set to create up to 5,000 jobs as part of an investment of more than £500m to open new stores and depots across the UK.

Earlier today (23 January), the company announced its pledge to open 25 new stores and three depots, in addition to refurbishing and extending 43 existing outlets. The UK supermarket chain, owned by the US-based Walmart Group, has created over 30,000 job opportunities in the past 12 months, which included over 14,000 young people and around 8,500 recruited through Job Centre Plus.

Eligible colleagues applying for jobs this year will also be given the opportunity to undertake a City and Guilds apprenticeship.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who welcomed the announcement, said: “The additional investment and 5,000 new jobs announced by Asda today will be a real boost for the economy and, more importantly, for people around Britain seeking jobs. I also welcome the company’s commitment to not only create jobs but invest in their staff too – offering employees the chance to join an apprenticeship scheme to gain skills that will benefit them throughout their career.”

Asda’s investment and job creation plans were unveiled during a UK visit by Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International, who said: “Our continued investment is because we see a tremendous opportunity in front of us – I’m proud of the difference you’re making and that we can make an even bigger difference in the lives of our customers and the communities we serve.”

Andy Clarke, president and CEO of Asda, said: “I am delighted to be able to start 2012 on such a positive note, doing what we do best – creating new jobs, working with new communities and bringing Asda’s low prices to families who need the value we can bring. I look forward to seeing these new stores and depots open for business and to welcoming new colleagues and customers to our team.”

Asda extended its supermarket network in 2011 by transforming 180 Netto stores into smaller versions of its existing supermarkets, after acquiring the Danish discount retailer’s UK shops last year for £778m.