Lions star helps Lidl to opens its biggest store in NI
Supermarket giant Lidl has opened its biggest Northern Ireland store at Connswater Shopping and Retail Park. Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby player Stephen Ferris joined store manager Ross Madden to launch the new premises in east Belfast.
The German discounter said it had created 17 new jobs to set up in the premises after relocating from its old unit at Connswater. And it's now the biggest of its 39 stores in the province.
Mr Madden said: "We are delighted to reopen our store in Connswater after four months of construction. This store boasts a new architectural design and spacious store layout, meaning that we can offer our customers a greater shopping experience with the same great value.
"We'd like to extend our thanks to our loyal customers, local councillors and Connswater Shopping Centre and Retail Park for their support over the last few months.
"The whole team looks forward to welcoming back our existing customers and getting to know our new customers over the coming weeks."
The store had been the subject of a planning row last year, with Belfast City Council initially planning to turn down the application.
It had argued that there were other vacant sites, such as the former Tesco and Dunnes buildings at Connswater.
But it later said that it had changed its view after receiving further legal advice and hearing the opinion of the director of planning and place.
According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures on supermarket spending in Northern Ireland, Lidl now claims a 5.4% share of the market here.
It enjoyed sales growth of 8.1% in the 52 weeks to June 18 2017. Tesco increased its sales by 3.2%, while Asda sales were down 0.2%, and Sainsbury's sales fell 0.5%.