Britain's fourth largest grocer Wm Morrison Supermarkets said it will create over 7,000 new jobs in 2012, as it opens 25 new stores and develops its manufacturing and logistics operations.

The firm, which created about 6,000 jobs this year, said on Wednesday that many of the new jobs created next year will be skilled positions such as butchery, bakery and fishmongery, while 300 will be employed at a new distribution centre.

Morrisons' jobs announcement was made after official data showed UK unemployment hit a new 17-year high in October.

A focus on low prices, promotions and fresh foods helped Morrisons to last month defy the gloom surrounding retailers and post third-quarter sales growth ahead of its main rivals.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Paul Sandle)