Retailer Marks & Spencer is aiming to increase the equality, diversity and inclusion of its workforce when it opens a new distribution centre for its e-commerce department next year.

The company plans to open a 900,000 sq ft distribution centre in Castle Donington, in early 2013, set to be the UK’s largest dedicated e-commerce warehouse.

It will distribute two million clothing and home products a week to customers who have placed orders online.

Such a large facility will require the company to employ some 1,000 new members of staff, and M&S has announced that a new employability scheme for people with disabilities and health conditions – called Marks & Start Logistics – will be one of the main recruitment channels used to recruit for these new roles.

Posted by Richard McKenna

The scheme, which is an extension of the Marks & Start programme that operates in M&S stores and offices, will help recruit, train and employ people with disabilities and health conditions to work at the new facility.

It will be run in partnership with Remploy Employment Service, an organisation that specialises in providing support for disabled people to overcome barriers to work.

“We want to support as many people with disabilities into the workplace as possible by taking our Marks & Start scheme to a new scale and a new part of the business,” said Tanith Dodge, HR director at M&S.

“Around ten million disabled people live in the UK and only 49 per cent are in employment compared to 78 per cent of non-disabled people. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our experience tells us that people who face barriers to the work place are committed, motivated and valued employees.”

Roles on offer at the new distribution centre will include positions for warehouse operatives, engineers, mechanics administrative staff, transport controllers and management.