Marks & Spencer has unveiled plans to recruit an extra 4,000 staff after figures showed shoppers continued to warm to the new-look chain.
The company said 200 of those would be be in the West and East Midlands but was unable to say how they would be split up.
Fresh from its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, M&S said the recruits would help it keep up with demand after updated ranges and a more efficient supply chain contributed to its trading revival.
Chief executive Stuart Rose, who has overseen the improvement over the past two years, said trading in the 13 weeks to July 1 had been encouraging, although he remained cautious ahead of the key Christmas trading season.
He pointed out that competition continued to be fierce - particularly from budget chain Primark and the supermarkets - and that the key challenge facing M&S was to ensure its ranges remained fresh in the eyes of shoppers.
But as an indication of the chain's improved fortunes, M&S said it would hold its summer sale a week later than normal.
Mr Rose also said the hiring of staff over the next two to three months was earlier than planned as demand had been ahead of expectations, while the company also needed people at additional food stores in its portfolio.
He reported growth of 8.2 per cent in like-for-like sales for the company's first quarter, with general merchandise up 10.5 per cent and food 5.8 per cent stronger.
The figures were helped by comparisons against a poor performance last year, although M&S said it had increased market share in all categories.
M&S will be up against tougher comparatives in the current quarter, while Mr Rose said the chain needed to work hard to retain existing shoppers.
He added: "The next trick is to bring constant newness to the business. Customers want freshness and continuing value."
Mr Rose said that whereas in the past M&S would have bought up ranges for Christmas by now, he said there was now much more flexibility with suppliers to ensure the retailer can reflect changes in fashion trends. M&S has also updated its store portfolio, with 35 per cent of outlets due to be converted by the end of the financial year.
Richard Ratner, head of equities at Seymour Pierce stockbrokers, said the update showed M&S continued to perform well, while he increased his profits forecast for the current financial year by £15 million.
He is now predicting £890 million this year, with £975 million in the following year. The company employs 65,000 people and has 450 stores.
A spokeswoman said 850 of the new jobs would be created in London with another 800 in the South-east, 600 in the South West and 150 in Northern Ireland. There will also be 200 in the East and West Midlands, 300 posts in Yorkshire, 400 in Scotland, 200 in South Wales, 300 in the North West, and 200 in the North East.
The annual meeting sees Paul Myners step down as chairman, following the appointment of Lord Terry Burns, who is currently deputy chairman.
Lord Burns, former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, is also chairman of Abbey National and Glas Cymru (Welsh Water).
Mr Myners was a key player in the company's takeover battle with Sir Philip Green.
Shares closed 2p up at 585.