The Co-operative Group is set to close two food distribution sites in the north east of England to make way for a new 270,000 sq ft RDC.

The £12m site will be built next to the Co-op Group's existing RDC in Birtley, Tyne & Wear, and is expected to be fully operational by the first half of 2009. Some 274 staff from the society's existing distribution centre, adjacent to the site, and from its distribution operation 12 miles away in Blaydon will relocate to the new centre.

"The new RDC will provide a multi-temperature operation, capable of serving all stores throughout our northern region," said a spokesman for the Co-op Group. "It is a long-term solution to our distribution needs in the area and will secure future employment in the region.

"We want to make sure that as many people as possible move to the new facility."