Shop Direct is set to close three fulfilment centres, putting nearly 2,000 jobs at risk, as it unveils plans for a new purpose-built facility.

The Littlewoods and Very owner intends to shut down its existing sites at Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven in mid 2020 as, it said, they no longer meet the group’s future operational ambitions.

The move is expected to impact 1,177 permanent Shop Direct staff and 815 agency workers, with redundancies anticipated.

Shop Direct will start work on a new automated distribution centre in the East Midlands in May this year, which is expected to be fully operational by 2021.

The retailer said the new 500,000 sq ft site is essential for it to continue to meet customer demand.

It will enable the online business to process more orders and reduce the time it takes to get products to customers.

Approximately 500 permanent roles will be created at the new site, with an additional 200 to 300 agency roles during peak periods.

Shop Direct said it has entered into consultation with trade union Usdaw and will be consulting with colleague representatives.

Shop Direct interim group chief executive Derek Harding said: “This is a tough day for the business and we know how difficult this news will be to hear for our teams in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven.

“However, these proposals are necessary for our future and to enable us to continue to grow and meet rising customer expectations. We’re announcing this now to give our colleagues the best possible opportunity to prepare for the change.”

“Our priority is to provide a fair outcome for our team and we’ll do everything we can to support colleagues through this transition,” he added.