Lidl spent £290m with Northern Ireland suppliers last year
LIDL bought £290 million worth of goods from Northern Ireland suppliers last year, exporting to vast bulk of it to Britain and Ireland, a new report has shown.
The research by Oxford Economics found that the German supermarket chain, which has 38 stores in the north, has been growing at a rate of 7.5 per cent per year since 2008, four times the retail average here.
According to the study, Lidl is worth £179m a year to the Northern Ireland economy, employing 880 people directly and 3,500 through the supply chain.
The first retailer in the north to introduce the living wage in 2015, the company paid £17m in salaries during 2018. Lidl claims its wages are approximately 30% higher than the Northern Ireland retail average.
The report also outlines how the discount chain has evolved here since opening its first store in Cookstown in 1999.
From initially importing most of its stock, Lidl spent £290m with suppliers in the north during 2018. Some £200m of those goods went to Britain, while £49m went across the border.
Speaking at the supermarket’s Northern Ireland headquarters at Dundrod yesterday, Lidl Ireland’s managing director JP Scally said the company now exports more products out of the north than it buys in.
However he said the potential for a no-deal Brexit has left an air of uncertainty.
“We have been working for a number of years on various scenarios around Brexit. Most importantly we have been working with suppliers to prepare them where we can, to share knowledge with them by bringing in consultants and help them to prepare for whatever scenario might arise.
“As it currently stands, we don’t know what the potential impact will be for sure. But we do know is that we want to avoid a no deal scenario in order for those suppliers to be able to export as they do to GB or to the Republic without any further barriers.”
He said the company expects to open its 40th store in the north next year, with a longer-term ambition of reaching more than 50 outlets.
Initially opening 30 stores in its first six years in Northern Ireland, Lidl’s pace of expansion has slowed in recent years. But the retailer has continued to invest in property with several replacement store projects, spending £8m a year on average. Last year that spend jumped to £13m.