Discount supermarket chain Lidl has opened its biggest ever warehouse at iPort in Doncaster, providing a major boost to the local economy through the creation of 400 new jobs.
The warehouse, which represents a £70m investment in Lidl’s expansion and logistics, will initially provide support to 53 Lidl stores across South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Midlands, with this number expected to grow.
Earlier this month, Lidl opened a new store in neighbouring Rossington, and has plans to open four further stores, in Rotherham, Chesterfield, Nottingham and Mapplewell by the end of 2019.
At 58,000 sq m, the Doncaster distribution centre is the supermarket’s biggest to date, with 3,900 pallets of products projected to pass through the premises every day.
Tsvetelina Butrakova, Lidl UK regional director for Doncaster, said: “We’re extremely excited to mark the start of the year with the opening of our Doncaster distribution centre, which plays an essential role in enabling us to meet growing customer demand for Lidl products.
“The centre also underlines our commitment to creating more job opportunities, and I am so incredibly proud of the team that we have here in Doncaster and across our stores, whose hard work and dedication has enabled us to get where we are today”.
Employees at the warehouse and store will benefit from an increase in pay, after the supermarket announced that it would once again match the voluntary Living Wage rate, as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.
The new salaries of £9.00 per hour, increased from £8.75, will come into effect from March 1 and will be 10 per cent higher than the Government’s ‘National Living Wage’. Employees will also receive a comprehensive benefits package including company pension scheme, employee discount and an enhanced holiday entitlement.
The new Doncaster distribution centre is part of Lidl’s commitment to invest £1.45bn in Britain.
Lidl opened its first British regional distribution centre in 1994 in Lutterworth and currently has warehouses in 12 other locations up and down the country, including Southampton, Northfleet, Enfield, Belvedere, Bridgend, Livingston, Lutterworth, Avonmouth, Newton Aycliffe, Wednesbury, Exeter and Runcorn.
The warehouse is Lidl’s third new site in the past two years and it has plans to open four more regional distribution centres by 2025, along with the relocation of its Livingston warehouse to Eurocentral, near Motherwell.
Lidl said the investment underlines the supermarket’s commitment to the sustainable growth of the business, both in the region and across the rest of Great Britain.
Since Lidl first opened its doors in the UK in 1994 it has been responding to growing customer demand, with an existing store portfolio of 740 and plans to open more than 50 new stores a year.
Earlier this month Lidl reported an 8 per cent rise in festive sales as its premium ranges enticed customers away from the UK’s biggest supermarkets.
The chain said shoppers transferred £58m worth of spending away from Waitrose, M&S and the big four - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - to Lidl in the run up to Christmas.
The discounter saw a 33 per cent rise in sales of its premium Deluxe range over the six weeks to December 30, with bestsellers including brioche burger buns and luxury mince pies.
Lidl also reported strong growth in alcoholic drinks, with a market-leading 18 per cent increase in beers, wines and spirits.
Sales of its Deluxe turkeys, which won a Quality Food Award, more than doubled.
Christian Hartnagel, Lidl UK chief executive, said: “We have continued to expand our footprint across the UK over the past year, and it is no surprise that this contributed to more customers than ever before shopping with us in December and over the Christmas period.
“In the context of a tough trading environment facing all grocery retailers, we are particularly pleased with the performance of our Deluxe premium range of products, which registered strong sales increases and proved a major draw for new and existing customers.”
According to Kantar Worldpanel, two in three households shopped with either Lidl or its fellow discounter Aldi during the holidays, putting greater pressure on other supermarkets to maintain market share.