German discount stores ‘are here to stay’

LONG-ESTABLISHED businesses will not be protected, in the long term, by campaigns to keep out German-owned discount stores, it has been warned.

The issue is being raised around the country as councils consider development plans that include rezoning of areas for residential, shopping and other uses.

A meeting of the town council in Listowel, Co Kerry, heard that many local business people did not want to see large food stores, such as Aldi and Lidl, setting up in the area.

Already such stores are claiming about 5% of the retail business nationally and their market share is said to be growing by the day.

Lidl has 36 stores in the Republic and Aldi has 10, with each having distribution centres in Newbridge and Naas, capable of servicing between 75 and 100 stores nationally.

Recently, Lidl announced plans for stores in Athy and Drogheda.

CB Hamilton Osbourne King associate director (retail) Michael Conroy told a Shelflife conference, in Dublin, the “discounters” had established a presence here faster than many people thought possible.

“They’re here to stay,” he stressed, adding that they would get better trading sites around the country.

Surveys claim that up to 80% of what customers buy in “discounters” is imported and long-established retailers are calling on the Government to intervene with a view to getting the “discounters” source more Irish goods, as happened with Tesco.

Meanwhile, at the Listowel meeting, Cllr Maria Gorman said while she was aware of the view of local business in regard to such stories, she did not agree with it. Stopping such stores from coming into Listowel would not protect local business in the long-term, she maintained.

She said some local people were already pooling cars and travelling on buses to other towns that had such stores.

“We can close our eyes and pretend it’s not happening, but it is,” Cllr Gorman said.

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