Sales up 17.5 per cent as Lidl posts record year for northern operation

Lidl's new northern managing director Ivan Ryan (left) with JP Scally (right), who heads the operation on the island, announcing a record £455 million spend with the retailer's agri-food suppliers in the north.

LIDL has reported a record £434 million in revenue for its retail operation in the north.

The German supermarket chain, which now has 41 stores in Northern Ireland, saw turnover increase by 17.5 per cent in the year to February 2023.

The rise was broadly in line with food inflation for the period.

The Office for National Statistics said the price of food and alcoholic beverage rose by 18.2 per cent in the year to February.

The retailer has not yet disclosed its profit for the latest trading period.

It comes as the discounter announced its spending with food suppliers in Northern Ireland hit a record £455m in 2022/23.

That was £108m or 31 per cent more than the previous year.

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Lidl currently sources goods from more than 60 northern suppliers.

They range from diary giant Dale Farm to small start-ups such as Hellbent, which makes South African style Boerewors sausages in Newtownards.

According to Lidl’s latest supplier impact report, £390m of goods sourced from those 60-odd suppliers ended being distributed through its international store network.

While that includes stores in Britain and the Republic, it also saw local produce sent across Europe, as far as Romania, Greece and Cyprus.

The record procurement comes as Lidl prepares to mark its 25th anniversary since opening its first Northern Ireland store in Cookstown during 1999.

Last year the company told The Irish News its long-term plans involve a network of 66 outlets in Northern Ireland.

The retailer has also committed to backing home-grown businesses through its Kickstart Supplier Development Programme.

The initiative involves training and mentoring for SMEs in areas such as quality control, packaging, marketing, public relations and other aspects of business development. Lidl then stocks the products on its shelves across the island.

Ivan Ryan, recently named Lidl’s new managing director in the north, said: “As the region’s fastest-growing supermarket retailer, I’m very proud of the positive contribution Lidl Northern Ireland continues to make to the local food and drink industry, thanks to our longstanding supplier partnerships and initiatives like our Kickstart Supplier Development Programme.

“Our supplier impact report demonstrates just how significant those schemes are in supporting an entire network of local producers to grow, develop, and enjoy success - not just locally in Northern Ireland but also across Europe and beyond through our global Lidl store network.”

JP Scally, who heads the Lidl operation on the island, added: “Growing our local supplier network has always been a priority for us and over the last two decades we have worked hard to establish and develop a robust and agile local supply chain.

“We remain committed to supporting local food and drink producers and look forward to building on this in the years ahead, as we work to deliver on our ambitious growth plans, expand our store network and employee base in Northern Ireland, and open up export opportunities for the region for wider industry growth.”