German supermarket chain Lidl is investing £220m in the UK, as part of its major expansion plan across the country, creating 2,500 jobs in the process and opening more stores over the next nine months.
The supermarket chain earlier invested £170m in 2013, opening 12 new stores with 3,500 new staff.
The ‘bumper’ expansion programme will boost the number of Lidl stores to jump from 600 to 620 in the next nine months, and follows four years of growth in sales and profitability for the discount chain in the country.
Lidl UK’s managing director Ronny Gottschlich said: "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."
Lidl is also embarking on a large-scale hiring across the board, including store roles, depot staff and positions at its Wimbledon HQ. Specialist positions such as bakery managers and freshness coordinators are also being filled.
Hiring will be created across both new stores and existing shops, as the discounter is looking to improve customer service and notch up a scale on offering fresh food.
Lidl had a turnover of £3.3bn in 2013, with 20% increase in sales over the past 12 months.
The supermarket giant is fast making inroads into the UK grocery sector. It will open its ninth regional distribution centre after an £80m investment in September this year.
Lidl has also "significantly increased" the amount of space allocated to fresh fruit and veg, meat, poultry and fresh fish in stores. Fresh produce now accounts for 40% of Lidl’s turnover, up from 25% four years ago, with two thirds of the range being British, reports Retail Week.
The expansion programme by Lidl comes as the British chain Morrisons announced 2, 600 job cuts recently.
UK grocery sector is undergoing a structural shift amid widespread competition. Big British retailers such as Tesco, Waitrose, and Morrisons are reeling under losses with cut-throat competition from discount chains such as Lidl and Aldi.
Consumers’ increasing preference to shop at discount stores, prompted Sainsbury’s to launch a joint venture recently with Netto, as part of which, 15 Netto stores will open before the end of next year.