British supermarket chain Asda said Monday that it planned to create 5,000 jobs this year, in a move hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron amid rising unemployment in Britain.
"Asda today announced that it will invest over £500 million ($780 million, 600 million euros) in its UK stores and depots in 2012, helping create up to 5,000 new jobs across the country," the Wal-Mart owned group said.
Asda added in a statement that it planned to open 25 new stores and three new depots this year, and would expand and refurbish 43 of its existing outlets.
Cameron welcomed the news, which came after recent data showed that the nation's jobless total had struck the highest level since 1994 -- and could rise further in the coming months.
"The additional investment and 5,000 new jobs announced by Asda today will be a real boost for the economy and more importantly for people around Britain seeking jobs," Cameron said in the joint statement.
Official data showed last week that a total of 2.68 million people were unemployed in November, up 118,000 from a quarter earlier.
The unemployment rate meanwhile rose to 8.4 percent in the three months to November, the highest level for 17 years.