Lidl ups focus on bakery and fresh food as its plots UK expansion

Lidl is shifting its position to focus more on fresh food and in-store bakeries as it looks to step up the pressure on the big four supermarkets.

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The discount grocer will increase its store portfolio to 620 by the end of 2014, up from the 600 it had in 2013 and is planning to create 2,500 new jobs. These will include specialist store roles such as bakery managers and fresh product managers, as well as various roles at its head office in London.

A Lidl spokesperson says the head office roles will be “across the spectrum” although it isn’t specifying exactly where it is looking to hire.

Lidl is also refurbishing its current stores to increase the amount of space it allocates to fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish and is installing bakeries across its store portfolio. Lidl says that fresh food now accounts for 40 per cent of its turnover, up from 25 per cent four years ago.

Ronny Gottschlich, managing director of Lidl UK, says: “We’re focusing on a single goal – giving our customers the freshest, highest-quality products possible at the best value.

“This latest phase in our growth is a testament to the continuing success of Lidl in the UK. People all over the country are realising they can make huge savings on their weekly grocery shop with us, without compromising on quality.”

The moves are part of a £220m investment in the UK by Lidl this year aimed taking advantage of rising demand for discount grocers.

Lidl’s share of the grocery market grew by 22.7 per cent in the 12 weeks ending the 25 May, giving it a record 3.6 per cent share of the market, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Together, Aldi and Lidl now account for more than 8 per cent of the grocery market and analysts believe that figure could rise to 15 per cent.

The big four supermarkets are attempting to ward off the discounters with a series of price cuts and marketing activity aimed at promoting their lower prices. Asda, Tesco and Morrisons have all announce multi-million pound price investments in products such as milk, vegetables and chicken.

Meanwhile Sainsbury’s is making its own bet on the discount market, tying up with Netto to relaunch the brand in the UK. The first store will open in the north of England in the autumn.

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