Lidl planning to build major new £6m store in Strabane
Discount supermarket chain Lidl is set to embark on a major development in Strabane worth a reported £6m.
The German firm recently bought a retail outlet in the Co Tyrone border town, next to the main A5 bypass, for around £3m.
The units currently house Argos, New Look, Menarys and Peacocks.
The out-of-town shopping centre, which sits next to a large Asda supermarket, has proved a significant draw for cross-border traffic.
Lidl's plan, revealed by SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan in the Strabane Chronicle, could see the four standing units demolished to make way for a supermarket.
It is understood that all leases expire by 2022.
Lidl already has a store in Strabane's Bradley Way, which is close to the new site.
The plan would see a significantly larger store in the town, including an in-house bakery and modern facilities for staff.
The chain has also acquired nearby land from Co Tyrone motor group Pat Kirk, which looks set to be the site for two or three new retail units.
Mr McCrossan, who recently met with some of the figures involved in the plan, said while the investment was to be welcomed, there were fears for the staff in Argos, New Look, Menarys and Peacocks.
"My concern is to try and ensure that the jobs are protected and they're rehoused," stressed the MLA.
"We certainly don't want a situation where we lose businesses as a consequence of one business moving.
"I have requested meetings with New Look, Menarys and Peacocks to find out what their intentions are."
It is understood that Lidl will submit a planning application by the end of the year.
A spokesman said development plans for the site were at an early stage and a number of options were being considered.
He also said the total investment earmarked for the site would be aligned to these plans and would likely run into "several million pounds".
News of the major investment came as Lidl announced it was expanding its number of locally sourced products.
Artisan products made by 11 Northern Irish suppliers are set to go on sale in all 195 Lidl stores on the island from September 17 for a limited period.
The range includes bacon jam from Enniskillen, Rhuberry gin from Saintfield, chilli beef craft peanuts from Newtownards, pesto from Ballymena and pulled pork from Newry.