Lidl is ramping up its expansion plans, having issued almost three times as many planning applications in the last quarter of 2015 as close rival to Aldi.
The value retailer had said previously that it would increase its UK presence to 1,500 stores: more than twice its current estate. In the last three months of 2015 Lidl filed 48 applications for new outlets, worth around £150m in construction costs alone. By comparison, Aldi made only 17 applications during this time and Sainsbury‘s filed just 22 in the entire year.
“The end of 2015 showed once again that Aldi and Lidl are the only supermarkets in the UK with the appetite for investment in retail space,” Michael Dall of Barbour ABI told The Telegraph.
“While the big players remain focused on retaining current market share, Lidl in particular has maintained its ambitious expansion plans.”
The renewed focus on growth comes at a time when several major supermarket players are downsizing, particularly as more and more customers choose to shop online or turn to weekly convenience store visits as opposed to larger supermarket shopping trips.
Lidl can afford to be ambitious at this stage, having consistently undermined competition from the Big Four to increase their own market share. This Christmas, Aldi enjoyed the biggest sales growth in the market, seeing sales jump by 16.5%.
In November, Lidl announced plans to invest £1.5bn over the next three years to facilitate expansion. This will include updated and renovated outlets with self-checkouts and customer toilets, as well as pushing into more affluent areas, with 280 stores to open in London alone.
The German discounter also has plans to enter America by 2018.