British supermarket retailer Asda has opened its Merchandising Centre of Excellence (MCE) in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Located on Great Wilson Street, the MCE includes a full-sized model store featuring different shelf layouts and a virtual reality lab, which will be used to test store layouts and construction plans virtually.

The facility has a 650-seat auditorium to host conferences for colleagues and suppliers, as well as 148 colleague parking spaces.

Asda MCE manager Shaun Bamforth said: “The new MCE is a significant investment for Asda and a great way for us to ensure that we’re getting everything right for our customers before we roll it out to stores.

“The new MCE is a significant investment for Asda and a great way for us to ensure that we’re getting everything right for our customers before we roll it out to stores.”

“It’s also a boost to the local economy in Leeds as well as the investment during the construction phase. The site gives us the ability to host conferences and events that will bring thousands of people into the city centre each year.”

In July, Asda revealed plans to close its Enfield Home Shopping Centre in North London.

The decision follows the retailer’s investment in digital capabilities and the opening of two fully automated Home Shopping Centres in London over the last 18 months.

Asda entered consultation with colleagues working at the facility as the closure proposals would affect them.

In another development, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched the first phase of a formal investigation into the proposed merger of British retail giants J Sainsbury and ASDA Group last month.