Lidl boss targets continued growth
Discount supermarket chain Lidl wants as many as 1,500 stores in the UK under plans to build on its rapid growth of recent years.
The firm currently has 600 stores and a 3% share of the grocery market but UK managing director Ronny Gottschlich told the Sunday Telegraph that the chain will step up the pressure on the "big four" supermarket groups.
Backed by parent company Schwarz Group, Lidl expects to spend £170 million this year on opening new stores and installing bakeries within its existing sites.
Annual investment is likely to rise to £300 million within two years as Lidl accelerates from opening 15 to 20 stores per year to at least 30 to 40 stores.
Mr Gottschlich said: "If I could have the 1,200 in the next three years then I would have it in the next three years. But it is clear that the quality of the sites must not be lost.
"There are no restrictions to the openings we can do in a year. The funding is there."
This week, Tesco is expected to report a fall in like-for-like sales of around 1.5% in its third quarter, with increased competition from discounters such as Lidl and Aldi among the factors in the decline.
Lidl said its like-for-like sales were growing at 18% year-on-year and that a quarter of its shoppers are now from the A and B socio-economic groups.
Mr Gottschlich described new Lidl customers as "Maidstone Mums" , someone who was once too embarrassed to be seen in Lidl shops.
He added: "I think that people's perception in the past, and this is something that is deﬁnitely changing, is there must be something wrong with the quality of what those people at Lidl offer because they have such reasonable pricing in their stores.
"It is difﬁcult to explain why it can be that a product at Lidl is that price and then at another retailer is 30, 40, 50 per cent more expensive.
"We want to make sure we get that explained."