A new distribution centre in Oxford is to employ 180 people organising the delivery of books, music, games and other goods ordered via the Internet.

WH Smith Online is leasing the warehouse and offices opposite the Rover car factory in Cowley, which should be ready to move into next month.

Operations director Stuart Rivett said: "Online customers expect lightning-fast delivery and we intend to give it to them. "Our ultimate goal is to provide our online shoppers with the same feeling of satisfaction they would get if they walked into one of our high street shops and walked out with the book or product of their choice."

The company, which took over the Oxford-based Internet Bookshop two years ago, employs about 60-80 people in Pony Road, Cowley.

Numbers are expected to more than double within a year. Mr Rivett said: "We will be looking for warehouse operatives as well as customer service staff to answer customers' queries and take orders."

At first the warehouse will stock more than 25,000 titles for immediate despatch to customers, many of whom can expect to see their purchases delivered within 24 hours. Mr Rivett said by Christmas they would be offering board games, toys and art and craft gifts as well as books, videos, CDs and computer games.

Customers can buy via WH Smith Online, TV shopping channels and mobile phones, as well as in kiosks in WHSmith shops.

The warehouse will have state-of-the-art radio frequency technology including finger-ring scanners.

Story date: April 28, 2000