Low cost grocer to open on Boucher Road as shoppers rush to clear Spend Local balances
Discount supermarket Lidl is investing £6m and creating 100 new jobs as it builds its first store in south Belfast, where it will jostle with Marks & Spencer for custom.
The company said it’s now applied for planning permission to open on the Boucher Road, where M&S will be its closest supermarket neighbour.
The 1,425 sq m store is planned for a site in front of the National Football Stadium and Olympia Leisure Centre.
There will also be a drive thru cafe on the site, which totals nearly 10,000 sq m.
Lidl said the supermarket would open as early as next year and would also support 200 jobs during construction, as well as creating 100 permanent retail jobs.
The site, which will be Lidl’s ninth in Belfast, will also include a 148-space car park, including electric vehicle charging points.
Plans for Lidl’s 42nd store in Northern Ireland emerged as the latest UK high street footfall figures from Springboard revealed a 20% week on week growth in activity as the December 19 deadline loomed for use of Spend Local cards.
According to retail research company Springboard, Northern Ireland growth in footfall for Sunday, December 12 to Saturday, December 18 far outpaced anywhere else in the UK.
Of 12 UK regions, the next highest jump in footfall was the north of England and Yorkshire, where there was growth of 8.1%.
Lidl said it aims to grow its store network here to 50 stores across the region.
In total, it’s investing £32m on new or replacement stores in five locations in Belfast.
Chris Speers, regional property executive for Lidl Northern Ireland, said: “Since confirming a £32m investment into the Greater Belfast region with five key sites late last year, we’re pleased to be delivering these projects at pace and with great success.
“We’ve opened two new stores at Holywood Exchange and Crumlin Road and I’m pleased to confirm we’re moving ahead with plans to relocate our existing store at Castlereagh Road to an adjacent site and to redevelop and expand our existing Shore Road store,” he said.
“Our fifth site at Boucher Road is a strategically-important location for us, expanding our reach into the south Belfast area for the first time and bringing a multi-million pound investment and new jobs to the local area.”
He described Boucher Road and its environs as “a key commuter belt and prime retail shopping area”.
And he said the National Football Stadium would act as a major footfall driver.
Mr Speers added: ”We’re pleased to have worked closely with councillors, key businesses and the wider community to bring these plans forward and we are grateful for the positive support we have received for these plans.”
The German retail chain has 41 stores and 1,100 staff in Northern Ireland at present.
It’s making a £26m investment in the north west of Northern Ireland, planning a new store for Strabane and two stores in Londonderry.
While Springboard’s latest report on UK footfall found a healthy 20% week on week increase in Northern Ireland, activity is still down 25.9% on the pre-pandemic era in 2019.
However, it’s up 11% on 2020.