Supermarket chain ASDA has announced it will be creating 9,000 new jobs in what it calls its biggest jobs programme in a decade. The jobs will be created through new store openings, extensions and business expansion.

The company, which is owned by U.S. based Wal-Mart Inc, said that 7,000 jobs will be created over the next 12 months through the opening of 10-12 new superstores, 10 living stores and 12 extensions to existing outlets.

ASDA said that another 1,500 jobs would be created through the expansion of Home Shopping and ASDA Direct.

In total new store openings over the year are expected to add an extra 800,000 sq ft to the company's estate. ASDA said the new store programme represented around £400 million of investment.

ASDA said that 500 new jobs would be created by the continued role-out of its pharmacy business, which would see the opening of 50 new ASDA in-store pharmacies.

Judith McKenna, the Chief Financial Officer at ASDA, said, This major investment demonstrates our on-going commitment to bringing low prices and fantastic service to even more people across the UK.

We have an impressive track record of regenerating areas at the edge of and in town centres throughout the UK, showing our ongoing commitment to local communities.