Lidl to invest £150m expanding Northern Ireland operation over next three years

New study suggests German retailer’s operation was worth £360m to the north’s economy in 2023

Ivan Ryan (left), Lidl's regional managing director with JP Scally, chief executive of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Ivan Ryan (left), Lidl's regional managing director with JP Scally, chief executive of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland. (PHIL SMYTH PHOTO)

Supermarket chain Lidl has announced plans to invest £150 million to expand its retail presence across the north over the next three years.

The German discounter, which now employs around 1,300 people, made the announcement as it marked 25 years since opening its first location on the island of Ireland in Cookstown during May 1999.

Lidl now has 41 stores across the north, with two new sites due to open soon in Carryduff and Belfast’s Boucher Road.

Store replacement projects are also planned in west Belfast, Craigavon, Bangor and Dungannon.

“Exactly how many stores per year will depend on the planning process,” said JP Scally, who heads the Lidl operation on the entire island.

“We have ambitions of opening at least 50 stores in the region by 2030.”

Last week saw the company finally secure planning approval to relocate its store in Newcastle, Co Down, after a seven-year battle.

It’s understood the grocer’s longer-term strategy involves as many as 66 stores, which would involve opening in smaller towns around the north.

Lidl’s growth plans have come up against the soaring cost of finance and construction over the past two years.

“The cost of construction in particular has been a factor for us,” said Mr Scally.

“Thankfully we have seen some of the costs tail off, which is why we have the confidence to build.

“We’re really taking a long-term view when it comes to Northern Ireland.”

Lidl said its operation was worth an estimated £360m to the Northern Ireland economy last year.

The figure, sourced from new research the company commissioned from Belfast-based Oxford Economics, also concluded the company supported around 6,900 jobs across the north in 2023.

Lidl procured £498m from Northern Ireland suppliers last year, a 36% rise on 2018. The vast majority (80%) of goods were shipped outside the north.

The company’s wage bill reached £30m in the north in 2023, with around one-third of its workforce aged 24 or under.

The latest accounts for Lidl show it made a pre-tax profit of £11m in Northern Ireland last year on a turnover of £434m.

“With consistent growth propelling us to a current market share of 9.1%, we’ve enjoyed phenomenal success and that’s down to the hard work and dedication of our fantastic employees across the region, as well as our incredible Northern Irish suppliers who have grown with us and continue to champion the highest quality produce,” added JP Scally.