Work is expected to start next month on a new £3.8m distribution centre for 3663 First For Foodservice, as it rationalises its supply chain in the south east of England.

The foodservice giant has invited bids to build the 60,000 sq ft warehouse in Paddock Wood in Kent. According to a planning application made to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, 3663 will close three other nearby depots in Edenbridge, Sevenoaks and Dunton Green. The new site will employ about 300 people, with some being relocated from the other three depots. The depot will include a 48,000 sq ft chilled area that 3663 hopes will help it to deliver on its aim to improve its fresh and chilled service. Justin Grice of analysts Nielsen said that in the year up to the end of August the delivered wholesale market had grown by just 0.7% in value, whereas chilled had grown by 3.1%.

“Delivered wholesalers are moving away from frozen to chilled, which is a clear growth area but requires investment in equipment,” he said. “Customers want more fresh and chilled goods and schools for example are looking to give their children their five-a-day.”

The wholesaler is also expected to include a number of state-of-the-art environmental features at the site, in keeping with its First For Sustainability policy. These will include using solar panels to provide energy as well as harvesting rainwater.