Lidl takes the high road with flagship store in Belfast city centre
German discount retailer Lidl has opened its 38th Northern Ireland store in the heart of Belfast city centre, creating 15 jobs.
The new High Street branch occupies a prime spot at the Hi Park Centre and is part of a £30m expansion and modernisation plan which will also see a revamp of some of the chain's oldest stores.
Next month the Larne and Coleraine stores will reopen after facelifts, with others including Lisnaskea in Fermanagh and Bangor, Co Down, following in the new year.
Lidl is riding the crest of a wave of popularity, attracting some 25,000 new customers in Northern Ireland over the last year.
Paul Gibson, sales operations executive for Northern Ireland, said success had been boosted by a recent marketing campaign.
Stores had also seen the addition of a bakery facility, he said.
He added: "Consumers today demand convenience, quality products, value and choice, and we believe the opening of the High Street branch will be a strong addition to our presence in Belfast and across the country."
He said consumers often ask how prices can be set so competitively by the chain, known for such specials as a £5.99 whole lobster.
"The answer is that we don't stock 10 of the same, say olive oil for example, but we source the single best of its type and stick with it and don't blur the range with too many."
Lidl sales have grown by 13% over the last year, according to retail research firm Kantar Worldpanel, as it wins over formerly faithful shoppers of the bigger supermarket chains. In the most recent analysis of market share, Lidl's has risen from 3.3% to 4.3% in the 52 weeks to November 9, while both Tesco and Sainsbury's' share of the cake is falling.
The company said the growth of its store estate to 38 shops - including the new High Street branch - has also served to drive up revenues and exports of a number of Northern Ireland companies like Linden Foods in Dungannon, Strathroy Dairy Limited in Omagh and Fivemiletown Irish Cheddar, another Tyrone concern, among others.
The cheese producer has been selling in hundreds of Lidl's mainland European stores for the past three years under its Deluxe range.
That high-end range also features Linden's beef which is now on sale across 14 countries.