Lidl contributes almost £180m to local economy annually, new report reveals
Grocery giant Lidl contributes almost £180m to the Northern Ireland economy every year and sustains around 3,500 jobs, according to research.
Oxford Economics, who were commissioned by Lidl to carry out the report, also found the discount supermarket chain purchased more than £290m of local goods, the majority of which was sold to stores outside the region in a boost to exports.
It also cited findings that Lidl is Northern Ireland's fastest growing supermarket, with sales going up 7.5%.
The company has 38 stores and more than 880 employees in the province.
However, it has said it plans to open two more stores this year while aiming to reach 50 in the near future.
JP Scally, managing director at Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: "With over 300,000 weekly customers, our commitment to deliver high quality locally-produced products at market-leading prices has helped to drive our phenomenal growth for two decades and we're proud of the deep local relationships with our suppliers and staff which we have established in this time."
Mr Scally also confirmed that Brexit would not change how the company operates and said staff from the EU would not see their status change.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
"There's a lot of unknowns around Brexit and impossible scenarios so it is very difficult to predict," he said.
"What we do know is that we will continue to be the cheapest in the market regardless of what happens and we will also continue to offer the best value for money.
"We have been communicating very openly with our staff as soon as we become aware of any potential requirements they have and keep them posted on that, but as far as we're aware we've been given assurances that anyone who is working in the region will be able to continue working here after Brexit."
The report also said that Lidl employees earn 30% more than the Northern Ireland retail average.
Oxford Economics also said that two-thirds of staff were aged 34 or under, almost twice the local average.
Almost a third of Lidl's turnover here was generated within the Belfast and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon districts - the two largest council areas by population.
The report confirmed that the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area, Mid Ulster, Mid and East Antrim and Fermanagh benefited most from Lidl's agri-food procurement spend.
Of the £290m worth of goods purchased in 2018, around £200m were sold in Great Britain, while almost £49m went to stores in the Republic.
To support its expansion and new store programme, Lidl NI has also invested around £8m every year since 2008 - last year, that figure was almost £13m.