Farmers in Clare unite in attempt to scupper Aldi’s store plans

A group of farmers in the north Clare market and heritage town of Ennistymon is frustrating attempts by German supermarket giant Aldi to build an outlet there.

The farmers are angry that Clare Marts Ltd has sold the old mart site in Ennistymon to the German retailer and the Save Ennistymon Mart Committee (SEMC) has lodged a strident objection against the plan with Clare County Council.

Last year, Clare Marts sold the site to Aldi for a price believed to be in the region of €1.5m, in the face of opposition from farmers who at one stage held a silent protest outside a Clare Marts board meeting.

The latest supermarket data from Kantar Worldpanel for Ireland gives Aldi 8.1% market share. It is seeking to increase that share with the Ennistymon proposal, where it would be pitted against SuperValu for retail dominance in the town.

Aldi has told the council it currently has 100 stores in Ireland, with a number of others either under construction or at the planning stage. It has two Clare stores — in Ennis and Kilrush.

The retail impact assessment, lodged with the proposal, estimates the annual turnover of the new store would be €9m, stating that currently there is more than a €21.7m surplus of convenience expenditure annually.

Aldi says the proposed development will not have an adverse impact of any significance on the existing retail provision in the catchment area.

However, an objection lodged by consultant Brendan McGrath, on behalf of SEMC, states that the demand for additional convenience retailing space in the catchment area is exaggerated.

Mr McGrath said SEMC is a group of local people, mainly farmers who are strongly opposed to the proposal.

Mr McGrath explains that “formerly part of the Fairgreen and then the venue for the mart for more than 50 years, the site has been an important part of the town over a long period”.

The consultant states that the site is not large enough to satisfactorily accommodate the scale of development, and would see the end of an Ennistymon tradition on the site “and see its replacement by a use that may not be in the long-term interests of the town”.

Mr McGrath said the plan is also not compatible with the objectives of either the county development plan or the local area plan.

Former Fianna Fáil mayor of Clare Flan Garvey has also lodged an objection against the plan.

In his objection, the retired councillor claims the development will have a major impact on the character and amenities of what is an elevated, exposed and very attractive location, stating that the plan “will ruin the character and ambiance of the old Fairgreen road forever”.

On Monday, Clare Co Council sought further information on the proposal and a final decision should be made before the end of this year.

German discounters Lidl and Aldi continued to show impressive gains in grocery market share.

Their combined market share has gone from 14.5% to 15.7% year-on-year, with each seeing sales rise by almost 11% in the latest period under review.

Aldi has an 8.1% share of the grocery market (up from 7.5% this time last year), while Lidl commands 7.6% (up from 7%).

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