Boss reveals Lidl's ambitious plans for 250 stores in Ireland
German retail chain Lidl could boost its footprint in Northern Ireland to up to 50 stores and 250 across the island in a move that would could involve an investment of at least €300m (£269m), it can be revealed.
The spend is in addition to the €400m (£359m) the company is investing in its network here between 2016 and 2018, which includes the €80m (£72m) cost of a huge new distribution centre it's hoping to secure planning for in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Lidl currently has 38 stores in Northern Ireland and has grown its market share to almost 6%.
Lidl Ireland managing director John Paul Scally said that the company will have 152 outlets in the Republic as of today, following the opening of a new store in Co Dublin.
It brings the total the chain has across the island to 190.
And in a long-awaited move for shoppers, the company has also started the trialling of self-service checkouts in Athy, Co Kildare.
If successful, it will be rolled out to other Lidl stores.
"We're not going to stop until we have a Lidl store in close proximity to everyone in the country," Mr Scally said.
"It will bring us to about 200 stores in total in the Republic of Ireland and a little bit under 50 in Northern Ireland," he added.
"We're not fixated on a figure. At this stage of our development, it's important that we get the right locations, the right sites and choose wisely."
Mr Scally said many of its new sites at the moment are targeted around cities including Dublin.
It recently opened an outlet in Cabra, while a store in Portmarnock opens today, its third new store this year in the Republic.
It will open two more stores this year, both in Cork, at Wilton and Bantry.
"We have a site in Grangegorman (in Dublin city) that's hopefully going to open in the next year. We'll have Drumcondra coming up in the future too, so some really high-profile locations," he said.
Mr Scally said Lidl also had additional sites in Galway and Cork, but will take time to get those sites through planning.
He said realistically it would take Lidl more than five years to break the 200-store mark in the Republic.
"It will take however long it takes. It's important we do it right, so it's not a case of just getting the numbers on the board," he added.
The company is spending about €110m (£99m) this year on new stores, extensions, refurbishments and knock-and-rebuilds.
According to figures released this week from research group Kantar Worldpanel, Lidl has a 12.1% share of the Republic's multi-billion euro grocery market.