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Business view: Meeting the demands of canny shoppers

By Margaret Canning

Long after punishingly high inflation had us slashing our household budgets, it appears we still can't get enough of Lidl. It would appear that thrifty spending habits aren't easy to dislodge once they have taken hold, even in this era of 0% inflation.

The German chain is set to open up to 15 new stores around Northern Ireland over the next couple of years - which will give it a grand total of 53 and make it our second-biggest multiple grocer by store number. That pace of expansion will surpass even Tesco's growth spurt, which reached at least 57 locations at its zenith but over a slightly longer period.

Of course, Tesco's wings have been drastically clipped, and it is closing a total of three stores and abandoning plans for three new ones.

Whether Lidl's expansion will be so cruelly curtailed some time in the future is unlikely.

Tesco took a cavalier approach to overseas expansion, and has had to row back from ventures such as its Fresh & Easy chain in the US.

But Lidl seems to take a much more cautious approach. It has put off plans to open stores in on the east coast of the US until 2018 - and its expansion here comes only after a prolonged period of getting to know the market.

Like its fellow continental retailer Inditex - whose Zara in Belfast is reopening soon - it doesn't take unnecessary risks.

Belfast Telegraph


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