Rapid rise of German retailers surprises some

Lidl opened its first set of Irish stores 17 years ago. At the time the head of retail group, RGDATA said that Lidl were catering for a ‘niche market’.

“Lidl will be selling brands that Irish people wouldn’t know and their range is limited ...so I can’t really see Lidl surviving in rural towns.”

Fast forward to today and the store where the model is built on ‘no frills, cheap and convenient’ now has 150 outlets in Ireland.

The rapid rise of German retailers Lidl and Aldi over the last few years has taken some people by surprise. Where they were once places people went to in order to save some money on a few items, it’s now almost fashionable to be seen at an Aldi or Lidl.

Or even when asked where your child’s high chair or your garden furniture has come from. “Lidl” or “Aldi” is now as an acceptable answer as any of the major department stores.

Aldi now has 129 stores in Ireland and since 2012 alone they have opened 37 new stores. They now employ more than 3,000 people here.

“We are currently engaged in a €100 million store expansion programme that will create 400 new jobs and see 20 new stores open in Ireland over the next three years,” said an Aldi spokesman.

“The growth of the discounters, Aldi and Lidl, has fuelled the Irish consumer demand for value. Consumers continue to be value seeking despite the economic improvement and deflation remains a feature of the market,” said AIB’s David Ward.

Over the past five years Lidl has opened 22 stores have opened across the island of Ireland and at the moment it has four new stores under construction, in Wilton and Bantry in Cork and Cabra and Portmarnock in Dublin.

A Lidl spokeswoman said several more stores are undergoing extensive renovations such as Drogheda and Macroom.

“We have an ambitious expansion and modernisation plan in place for our portfolio,” she said.

The company recently hit 5,000 employees between Ireland and Northern Ireland and has plans to increase this number by 600 over the next two years.

“Our headcount has grown by 30% over the past five years due to new store openings and increased support required from regional and head offices,” she said.


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