Lidl is continuing its European expansion with the confirmation it is opening 60 more Irish stores. The new sites — both north and south of the border — will take the German discounter’s network across the island to 240 outlets.
The news puts Lidl, which reported a €1,151m (£843m) turnover in Ireland last year, in direct competition to the family owned Musgrave grocery group which has annual sales of over €4bn (£2.9bn) from stores in Ireland, the UK and Spain.
To locate its 60 new sites, the Neckarsulm-headquartered company — with 143 stores in Irish Republic and 38 in Northern Ireland — has hired the global commercial property and real estate services adviser, CBRE.
According to its agent, Lidl is prepared to wait for the right sites and has put a three year time frame on its expansion plans. A priority for the discounter is store location with a “shopping list” that includes a “high profile site that has good accessibility and visibility”.
Florence Stanley is head of retail at CBRE’s Dublin office. She said that as well as mounting a countrywide search for suitable sites, her company would also be contacting local estate agents to find the best business locations. “It might take a while to fulfil our commitment, but if we manage to line up the 60 sites within the three year deadline our client would probably be very happy,” she added.
While the perfect sites would be around two-acres, smaller plots will also be considered in urban areas in line with the discounter’s strategy of attracting more transient shoppers, a concept it has successfully trialed in its German home market.
Lidl also has a preference for freehold store sites covering anything from 19,400 to 25,800 sq ft. On smaller sites it optimises space by putting the store on stilts, using the space underneath for shopper parking.
Part of the Schwarz Group, the fifth-largest retailer in the world, Lidl operates 9,800 stores across 28 European countries. As part of its global expansion plans it intends to open its first United States outlets by 2018, moving into Russia and Australia within a decade.
In contrast, Tesco has yet to make a decision over its long delayed megastore planned for Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in west Dublin. The UK retailer has denied the scheme, like 49 mainland supermarket projects, is about to be abandoned.
Planning permission for the store was granted by the independent Irish appeals body, An Bord Pleanála, in the summer of 2013 and, according to an official spokesperson, the company is “working through planning compliance with the local authority and as such a commencement date for the development has not yet been finalised”.