Aldi remains resistant to Northern Ireland
Discount supermarket chain Aldi has pledged to create 35,000 new jobs in the UK - but Northern Ireland remains off its radar.
Aldi's resistance to the province's canny consumers persists, despite recent growth in the market share of rival discounter, Lidl.
A spokesperson confirmed that the province was not included in its plans to invest £600m in UK expansion. Store numbers are set to more than double through the opening of 550 new outlets over the next eight years.
The plan was discussed during a visit to Aldi UK's Warwickshire headquarters by Prime Minister David Cameron. The company's grocery market share now stands at 4.8% following the rapid growth of discounters in the UK, led by Aldi and German rival Lidl.
Figures from Kantar Worldpanel for Northern Ireland also revealed major growth for Lidl. Its sales rise rocketed from 0.2% in 2012/13 to 9.2% in 2013/14. The market share of the discount supermarket has risen to 4.1% in this year, from 3.8% last year.
Aldi opened 42 new stores last year and is on course to open another 54 this year, with another 60-65 new stores planned to open in 2015. The Aldi group now has more than 7,000 stores across three continents.
Its job plans in the UK include the creation of at least one apprenticeship position per store, per year. This will be supported by a new academy located at Aldi's office and distribution centre in Bolton, due to open in March.