Parcel delivery company DPD Ireland has announced plans to expand its operations nationwide and will create 700 jobs before the end of the year.

DPD said that up to 150 positions will be based in the company's headquarters in Athlone and the remaining 550 jobs for drivers and operational personnel will be based at its 36 regional depots nationwide.

DPD Ireland, the country's largest parcel delivery company, is also investing €1m in its automation and routing systems in its central hub and sorting facility in Athlone.

The company is also investing another €1m in additional driver scanner technology to support the expected increase in parcel volumes over the Christmas period.

It has already spent €500,000 this year doubling the size of its depots in Cork, Kildare and Meath, with two more facilities opening in Dublin this month.

Today's new jobs are in addition to 100 new driver roles announced in April of this year amid a surge in parcel demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company reported an 800% surge in deliveries of electrical goods, while pet food deliveries soared by 300% and sports equipment jumped by 225%.

DPD Ireland's chief executive Des Travers said the company is actively recruiting at the moment and said the company has experienced a phenomenal increase in demand due to Covid-19.

"Our services have played an important role in these unprecedented times, with consumers ordering more online due to coronavirus concerns. The new jobs will increase our workforce to almost 2,000, enabling us to continue to meet customer demand," Mr Travers said.

"The additional roles provide a glimmer of light against the bleak backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, and we hope the expansion of our business will help boost the economy as a whole," he added.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said today's investment from DPD Ireland is a fantastic boost to the country.

"Depots in Cork, Kildare and Meath have already doubled in size this year, attesting to the massive increase in online shopping we've seen during the pandemic," Mr Varadkar said.

"Athlone is the ideal location for the expansion to DPD Ireland's facility due to its skilled workforce and high connectivity to the whole country," he added.

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The Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy said today's jobs announcement is a really positive development for the Midlands.

"The expansion of their operation represents a strong endorsement of Athlone and the Midlands as an excellent place to succeed in business," he added.

Mr Troy said the Midlands has had to face a difficult transition with the decline of peat production and like every other region is now experiencing the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The announcement by DPD Ireland today however demonstrates that economic renewal and growth is possible despite these challenges," he added.

Today's jobs announcement follows the news from rival Fastway Couriers yesterday that it is recruiting 600 additional seasonal workers for what is expected to be an exceptionally busy festive period this year.