Retailer Lidl is planning a new multi-million-pound assault on the Scottish grocery market after revealing plans to expand its warehousing operation, add stores and create 500 jobs.
The German discounter which, alongside rival Aldi, has emerged as a major threat to the UK’s dominant big four supermarkets of Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in recent years is set to invest an unspecified eight-figure sum in establishing a new regional distribution centre at Armadale in West Lothian.
The site will stretch to 764,000ft2, the equivalent of 10 football pitches. It will replace the supermarket’s existing facility 10 miles away at Livingston, which is less than half the size of the proposed new hub.
The current warehousing operation was established in 1996 to support Lidl’s fledgling retail operations in Perth and Glasgow and has been extended several times as the company’s store portfolio north of the border has grown.
It has 90 shops in Scotland, the latest of which was opened in October, and expects to increase its overall workforce by 500 to around 2,300 this year through its programme of store refurbishments, relocations and openings.
The company yesterday said it expected to bring “at least” three new outlets online in Scotland this year.
Lidl said the decision to invest in a new state-of-the-art logistics hub, which will open for business next year if approved by West Lothian Council, came on the back of a fourth consecutive year of growth for the company in the UK.
The firm has increased its share of the UK grocery market to 3.5% and expects sales to surpass £4 billion in the current financial year.
Ross Millar, managing director of Lidl in Scotland, said the new regional distribution centre, one of nine servicing the firm’s UK retail estate, would provide the company with the platform required to continue its growth north of the border.
“This latest phase in our growth is a testament to the continuing success of Lidl in Scotland,” Mr Millar said.
“The opening of our 90th store in Scotland marked our 20th year of operating here and, along with our planned investment over the next 12 months, signifies our commitment to Scotland and the communities which we are proud to serve.”
The existing Livingston facility provides a daily delivery service to each of the firm’s shops nationwide.
Its lorries are filled with as much stock as they can legally carry and pallets are stacked in such a way that they mirror how each store is laid out, ensuring no time is wasted in the unpacking.
Livingston warehouse manager Iain Hunter said the firm had outgrown the current logistics hub.
“The rise in customer numbers and increase in sales means we are operating an even busier warehouse than ever before,” he said.
“We are shipping more and more stock every day to our store network across Scotland and, as a result, we now require a new, larger warehouse to cope with the demand and anticipated future growth.”