Asda is set to create 5,000 jobs and invest £500 million this year, as part of a programme to open stores and overhaul distribution centres with IT-driven 'cross docking' capabilities.

Cross docking, run by advanced software, will be rolled out across new distribution centres, as part of the plan. The technology allows Asda to receive goods from suppliers and then almost immediately load them to its own trucks, minimising storage requirements.

Advanced supply chain IT is crucial to effectively managing stock on cross docking. The systems at Asda will likely be based on its SAP enterprise resource planning systems, used nationally as the basis for its technology.

The next distribution centre to receive the cross docking will be South Elmsall in Yorkshire. The site was originally owned by supermarket chain Netto, which was bought by Asda in 2010, and it was near Netto's headquarters.

Asda will also overhaul a distribution centre in Falkirk, and open a similar site in Rochdale.

Asda confirmed that most of the 5,000 new jobs will be in the new or expanded distribution centres as well as in 25 new stores due to open this year. A spokesperson confirmed that some roles would be in IT and the back office.

The company said the high-tech depots "will add additional capacity and efficiency" to its supply chain, and that cross docking would allow groceries "to be shipped in and out in minimal time".

"Over the past five years, Asda's distribution team have delivered almost 25 percent more products, despite driving 19 million fewer miles - these three new depots take an additional one million miles off the road," it said.

The company, owned by US retail giant WalMart, already employs over 180,000 people in 528 stores and depots across the UK. It is the country's second largest supermarket chain.