Retail group Marks & Spencer has unveiled plans to build a new, 900,000sq ft distribution centre at the new London Gateway Port in south Essex.

Subject to planning, construction work on the hub, at the London Gateway Logistics Park at the side of the Thames, will begin in 2014, eventually creating 700 jobs.

The new centre will receive millions of M&S products direct from ships docking at the adjacent new London Gateway deep-sea container port, which is due to open later this year.

Developer DP World said the location would give the retailer closer access to key UK cities, meaning that goods will not travel as far to reach customers.

M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said of the development: “London Gateway will become our third large distribution centre in the UK as we transform our logistics operations into a modern and agile supply chain, fit for the future of M&S.

“As we become an international, multi-channel retailer, London Gateway will help us become more efficient by cutting costs and locating our supply chain closer to our stores and our international markets.

“It will also help us deliver against our Plan A objectives by removing road miles and emissions from our network.”

The development was also welcomed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited London Gateway today (10 June) and discussed global trade with an audience of 200 business leaders.

M&S said in May that it was working to update its sourcing and logistics systems after admitting that 20 years of under-investment had led to a “sluggish and inconsistent” supply chain.

The company said its plans would involve streamlining the number of distribution centres it operated, as well as moving to an FOB model from full service vendor suppliers (FSV).