Retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced plans to create 1,000 jobs for people with disabilities at its new distribution centre at Castle Donington in Leicestershire.

M&S’ distribution centre, due to open in early 2013, is set to be the UK's largest dedicated e-commerce warehouse, and will distribute two million clothing and home products a week direct to customer homes and M&S stores across the country.

As part of this, a new employability scheme for people with disabilities and health conditions - Marks & Start Logistics - will be one of the channels used to recruit for the new roles, which include warehouse operatives, engineers, mechanics administrative staff, transport controllers and management.

Inspired by the Marks & Start scheme that operates in M&S stores and offices, Marks & Start Logistics will help recruit, train and employ people with disabilities. It will be run in partnership with Remploy Employment Service, which specialises in giving disabled people the support they need to overcome barriers to work.

Esther McVey, Minister for the Disabled, said: "Although the employment rate of disabled people has improved over the past few years, around half of all disabled people are still not in work and those that are often work far below their potential.

“That is why I'd urge other employers to follow the example of M&S and look hard at their recruitment and work practices to make sure they don't miss out on the extensive talents of disabled people."

Tanith Dodge, HR director at Marks & Spencer, said: “We want to support as many people with disabilities into the workplace as possible by taking our Marks & Start scheme to a new scale and a new part of the business. Around 10 million disabled people live in the UK and only 49% are in employment compared to 78% of non-disabled people. It doesn't have to be this way. Our experience tells us that people who face barriers to the work place are committed, motivated and valued employees.”

Beth Carruthers, director of employment services at Remploy, added: "I applaud M&S for this commitment - this wonderful new distribution centre will provide jobs for a large number of disabled people in the East Midlands, allowing them to maximise their talent.

“Every day at Remploy we see disabled people demonstrate their talents in the workplace and Marks & Start Logistics will give many more an opportunity to shine through sustainable employment.”