SUPERMARKET group Lidl has unveiled plans to create more than 500 jobs in Scotland this year as part of a £30 million investment in its stores.
The retailer, which made its first foray into the UK in 1994, has enjoyed a dramatic upturn in customer numbers as it attracts more shoppers away from “big four” rivals Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
Along with fellow German group Aldi, privately-owned Lidl has been growing its market share as the grocery sector becomes more polarised, squeezing the major chains.
Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said earlier this week that Lidl held on to its record 3 per cent share of the market during the 12 weeks to 9 June, while Aldi hit an all-time high of 3.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, upmarket peer Waitrose enjoyed sales growth of 10.4 per cent, more than three times the market average. The employee-owned chain, part of the John Lewis group, said yesterday that its sales soared 14.1 per cent in the week to 15 June, boosted by Champagne and wine discounts.
Heavy promotional activity among supermarkets contributed to a better-than-expected 2.1 per cent increase in retail sales volumes in May, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. Demand was also lifted by a return to more normal weather following the unseasonably cold conditions during April.
Lidl has 88 stores across Scotland and its customer numbers have jumped 20 per cent since the launch of its first branding campaign north of the Border at the start of this month.
Along with refurbishing its stores, the firm is planning to expand the size of its 27,000 square metre distribution centre in Livingston by almost a third.
Warehouse manager Iain Hunter said: “We are now shipping more and more pallets of stock every day to our stores in Scotland and as a result we now require to extend the warehouse to cope with the current increase and planned future increases in turnover.”
Lidl is currently working on its 89th Scottish store, having recently been granted planning consent to convert a former bus depot in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire.
As well as price-conscious shoppers, the retailer said it is attracting more affluent consumers to its stores, with research from Nielsen showing that its proportion of so-called ABC1 customers rose from 25 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent last year.
Ross Millar, managing director of Lidl Scotland, said: “It’s been a tough few years for everyone in Scotland but Lidl has continued to grow from strength to strength.
“The fact we are now looking to extend our distribution centre and recruit over 500 new permanent employees is not only a good sign for us but is also great news for Scotland.”