Morrisons is to create 7,000 new jobs and open 25 stores in 2012 as it goes on an expansion drive.

The Bradford-based grocer is developing its manufacturing and logistics arms as well as its retail estate.

Around 300 people will be employed at Morrisons’ new Bridgwater Regional Distribution Centre, which will provide service to stores in the South West and South Wales.

The grocer said many of the new posts would be skilled positions in its butchery, bakery and fishmongery divisions.

Group HR director Norman Pickavance said: “Despite the difficult economic conditions, Morrisons continues to have ambitious growth plans and that means we will be searching for people to join us in the communities in which we operate.”

In store, the grocer is looking to expand range of categories through “rebalancing” its existing range for further retail as part of its Project Liberate initiative.

The Office for National Statistics today said the unemployment rate was 8.3%, up from 7.9% in the previous quarter.

UK unemployment rose by 128,000 in the three months to October to 2.64 million, the highest level since 1994.