Discount retailer Lidl is to make its single biggest one-year investment in Ireland since entering the market in 2000, with a total of €200m earmarked for a range of projects over the coming months.

It is investing in both its store network and in the building of a new distribution centre. The group has 154 stores in the Republic of Ireland and has a share of over 10pc of the Irish grocery spend, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

The largest individual project for 2018 will be its new distribution centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare, which will cost approximately €80m. Work on the new facility, which was granted final planning permission three weeks ago, will begin next month and will be the equivalent in size to three Aviva stadia.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 construction workers will work on the project. In addition to employment during construction, 100 permanent jobs will come on stream next year when the warehouse is fully operational – adding to the 250 already working there. A number of new stores are also planned, while two will be knocked down and rebuilt in the chain’s modern format. A store in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, will be relocated.

New stores are planned for Grangegorman, Dublin; Dunshaughlin, Co Meath; Santry, Dublin; and Sligo. Stores in Fortunestown, Co Dublin, and Castlerea, Co Roscommon, will be rebuilt.

Last month, the High Court dismissed Judicial Review proceedings challenging An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant permission for a mixed-use residential and retail development in Castleknock, which includes a Lidl store.

Construction will commence on the West Dublin site in the coming months, subject to there being no further appeals. Other proposed new stores, including one in Bray, Co Wicklow, are still going through the planning system.

Lidl said that the new distribution centre would be good news for Irish food and drink suppliers as Lidl purchases of Irish-sourced goods now have a value of over €700m. Total Irish export sales to Lidl stores exceed €200m annually. For example, Keohane’s of Bantry, Co Cork, recently agreed a €6m deal with Lidl UK to supply Salmon darnes to three of its depots.

The current year will see significant investment in the wider Irish retail grocery sector. As previously reported in the Sunday Independent, Tesco Ireland is once again investing in its Irish business by putting €70m into its operations here.

Irish Independent