Lidl's share of grocery market up in the last year
Lidl has continued its rapid rise in the Northern Ireland grocery market as it eats into the dominance of Tesco and Sainsbury's.
While the German discounter is still the fourth-largest supermarket in the province, it has seen strong growth over recent years as people look to a more convenient shopping experience.
Retail research firm Kantar Worldpanel found Lidl had a 4.9% share of the market in year to June - up from 4% on the same period last year. Although still small, it means Lidl's share of the grocery market here increased by a quarter over the last 12 months, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.
Tesco and Sainsbury's have seen their share of the market fall, by 1.4% and 1.8% respectively. Tesco is still by far the biggest supermarket in Northern Ireland with 35% of the market, but this has fallen from 35.8% over the last 12 months. Earlier this year the supermarket giant closed three stores at Connswater and Cregagh Road, both in Belfast, and its site on Church Street, Ballymena.
It mothballed two planned stores in Armagh and Carryduff after a fall in sales and accounting mismanagement. Sainsbury's has also faced difficult conditions with its share of the grocery market falling from 18.1% in June 2014 to 17.6% last month.
Asda has been closing the gap with Sainsbury's in a bid to become the second-biggest supermarket here. The Walmart-owned firm has seen with its share rising from 17% to 17.2%.
The major supermarkets have struggled throughout the UK after getting locked in a destructive price war with discounters such as Lidl and Aldi. In April, Lidl announced a major expansion to its Northern Ireland presence. It already has 17 stores in the province and said it could open as many as another 15, making it the second-biggest food retailer in Northern Ireland.
In the last 12 months it has opened a new flagship store on Belfast's High Street as well as expanded its operation at Connswater. It also announced a £20m expansion at its warehouse and distribution centre at Nutts Corner in Co Antrim last month.
Dr Karise Hutchinson, head of Business and Enterprise at Ulster Business School, said Lidl's growth will continue. "They have put a lot of money into Northern Ireland and I think in terms of market share it will grow and grow. Lidl have been clever with their strategy with their shopping local and they are much more locally responsive," she said.