German discounter claims new site as proof of ambitions for expansion across Britain
Lidl opened the largest warehouse in history as it intensifies its battle against Britain’s leading grocers.
The German discounter claimed that the new giant warehouse in Luton (Bedfordshire), which cost £300m and was three times larger than its existing large box sites, is proof of their ambitions to expand across the UK.
Lidl says the new 1.2 million-square-foot site will be able supply food to 150 stores and create up to 1,500 jobs. This is part of an initiative to open new stores across the country.
The supermarket has more than 940 stores in England and Wales. It opened 19 new stores at the beginning of this year, and 50 last year. The supermarket aims to reach around 1,100 stores by the end 2025.
The warehouse was designed to supply these stores rather than online grocery. Lidl is not pushing into the online market. Instead, it says brick-and-mortar shops represent a “significant opportunity” for growth. Richard Taylor, Lidl GB’s chief development officer said that the decision to open the largest warehouse in Britain was “not only a response to the increasing demand of customers but also a reflection of our ambitions to continue to grow this demand”.
He said: ” Lidl’s demand has never been greater and we see an increasing number of customers walking through our doors in order to save money on each shop.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the UK, hailed Lidl’s investment as a show of confidence in Britain, and suggested that more companies will follow Lidl’s example by investing cash in operations in Britain. Until now, the high rate of inflation has prevented some companies from investing in major projects.
Lidl, however, has been pushing forward with its spending in Britain due to a surge in demand from customers. It opened four new warehouses recently in Doncaster and Peterborough.
After “some problems in [its] Distribution Centres” last summer, the German discounter turned its focus to strengthening its supply chain earlier this year.
It was forced to delay store opening plans in order to focus on its warehouses. It still plans to reach its 2025 store goal.
The German discounter is investing heavily in its UK business to take advantage of the current cost-of-living crisis and attract more customers with lower prices.
Lidl’s share of the British grocery market has grown rapidly over the last year. According to the latest figures, Lidl is now on its way to overtaking Morrisons as Britain’s 5th largest grocer. Lidl has an 8.7pc market share, which is down from 9.3pc in the previous year.