Lidl's performance 'exceptional' during pandemic with sales up around 20 per cent

Lidl boss JP Scally.
Ryan McAleer

LIDL’S performance during the Covid-19 pandemic has been “exceptional”, with sales up by around 20 per cent, its most senior figure on the island has said.

JP Scally was speaking after the supermarket chain yesterday announced a pre-tax profit of £2 million in in Northern Ireland in the 12 months leading up to the end of February 2020.

Its 39 stores here recorded sales of just over £278m in that period, with staff levels reaching 936.

The figures emerged from a new set of accounts filed by Lidl Northern Ireland after the retailer set up a dedicated limited company in the north as part of its preparations for Brexit.

Previously it operated here as a subsidiary branch of the German group, with staff directly employed by Lidl Gmbh.

While the results reflect Lidl’s strong growth of the past number of year, the chief executive said the impact of Covid-19 had taken that growth to another level.

“There has been a huge increase in our turnover,” he said.

Supermarket analyst Kantar recently estimated that Lidl’s Northern Ireland sales grew by 19.7 per in 2020.

Mr Scally said its early indications confirmed that estimate was on target.

“It is around the 20 per cent growth mark, which is very significant obviously, which of course has led to an increase in our head count as well.”

The result has been a heavy recruitment drive, taking Lidl’s northern workforce to around 1,100. Earlier this week it announced plans to recruit another 170 people in 2021. Lidl also said every staff member would benefit from a £200 bonus.

The chief executive, who heads Lidl’s operations on both sides of the border, said if the retailer’s growth continues it will likely see it expand on its target of opening 50 stores in Northern Ireland.

Next month will see store number 41 open on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast. Another two new builds and up to four replacement stores are planned for the 2021/22 financial year.

Last year it emerged that Lidl’s new concept store in Dundonald will include a pub.

But Mr Scally ruled out rolling out that model in other others. He said it was an example of the retailer “thinking outside the box” to ensure the store is licensed for alcohol off sales.

“It’s not a model we are intending to roll out or develop. We have a challenge in terms of having the usual off licence offering within the store.

“This is an alternative to make sure the full shop experience is there for the customer,” he said.

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