Tesco Ireland is to build a national distribution centre at Donabate in County Dublin, at a cost of €70m.

The centre, due to be in operation by next April, will have a handling capacity of one million cases of goods a week. It will manage and distribute packaged and processed groceries, as well as some non food for the 94 stores across the Republic.

The facility will be one of three Tesco distribution centres, alongside others at Ballymun and Tallaght, also in Dublin. It will employ 600 staff, half new recruits and the rest made up of transfers, bringing to 13,000 the number Tesco employs in the Republic.

The new investment reflected the growth of the company's Irish business and the expansion of its range of non food in line with its UK parent, according to Tesco Ireland chief executive Tony Keohane.

"We are doing that in our bigger stores and where space allows will continue to do it. We aim to be strong in food and non food, including clothing, hardware and electrical goods."

At present, he said, Tesco Ireland was behind the UK in these areas. In terms of stores, the ambition was to increase the number of Tesco outlets in the Republic to 100 by the end of next year, he said.

Last year Irish sales reached €2.5bn.