Lidl boss targets 200 Irish shops in €700m expansion
German retail chain Lidl could boost its footprint in Ireland to as many as 200 stores in a move that would probably involve an investment of at least €300m.
The spend is in addition to the €400m the company is investing in its network here between 2016 and 2018, which includes the €80m cost of a huge new distribution centre it's hoping to secure planning for in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Lidl Ireland managing director John Paul Scally, pictured, said that the company will have 152 outlets in the Republic of Ireland as of today, when it opens a new store in north Co Dublin.
It brings the total the chain has across the island to 190.
And in a long-awaited move for shoppers, the company has also begun trialling self-service checkouts in Athy, Co Kildare. If it's successful, it will be rolled out to other Lidl stores.
"We're not going to going to stop until we have a Lidl store in close proximity to everyone in the country," said Mr Scally.
"It will bring us to about 200 stores in total in the Republic of Ireland and a little bit under 50 in Northern Ireland," he added.
"We're not fixated on a figure. At this stage of our development, it's important that we get the right locations, the right sites and choose wisely."
He said many of its new sites at the moment are targeted around cities including Dublin. It recently opened an outlet in Cabra, while a store in Portmarnock opens today, its third new store this year in the Republic.
It will open two more stores this year, both in Cork, at Wilton and Bantry.
"We have a site in Grangegorman (in Dublin city) that's hopefully going to open in the next year. We'll have Drumcondra coming up in the future too, so some really high-profile locations," he said.
Mr Scally said Lidl also has some additional sites in Galway and Cork but will take time to get those sites through planning. He said that realistically, it will probably take Lidl more than five years to break the 200-store mark in the Republic.
"It will take however long it takes. It's important we do it right, so it's not a case of just getting the numbers on the board." The company is spending about €110m this year on new stores, extensions, refurbishments and knock-and-rebuilds.
According to figures released this week from research group Kantar Worldpanel, Lidl has a 12.1pc share of Ireland's multi-billion euro grocery market in terms of value of sales.
Its annual sales here are likely to be in the region of €1.4bn, but Lidl does not reveal that figure.
SuperValu, the chain controlled by Cork-based Musgrave, is the biggest grocery retailer in Ireland in terms of value of sales, with a 22.1pc share.