Lidl is hiking the pay of more than 16,000 shopfloor workers as it reaffirms its commitment to paying staff a ‘real living wage’.

The discounter will increase its entry-level wage from £8.45 per hour to £8.75 from March 1, 2018.

Lidl staff working at stores within the M25 will see their hourly pay boosted from £9.75 to £10.20.

The move, which brings Lidl in  line with the new Living Wage Foundation rates of pay, will cost the grocer £3.5m per year.

Lidl’s investment, which will make its shopfloor staff the best paid in the grocery sector, comes as its big four rivals grapple with employment costs amid the introduction of the national living wage and the apprenticeship levy.

Back in June, Tesco said it was axing 2,300 roles amid plans to streamline its head-office operations and shutter a call centre in Cardiff.

Three months later, Asda wielded the axe on 300 central roles across Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester, with its trading and marketing functions feeling the force of the move.

And just last month, Sainsbury’s revealed it was slashing 2,000 HR and payroll jobs as part of wider efforts to make £500m of cost savings.

In contrast, Lidl is rapidly expanding its workforce as it presses ahead with its assault on the UK grocery market.

The discounter hired 2,500 staff in 2016 and last month revealed plans to create 500 new jobs at a new regional distribution centre.

Lidl chief executive Christian Härtnagel said: “As the fastest-growing supermarket our business is continuing to go from strength to strength, and it’s only right that we show our commitment to our colleagues in the same way that they commit to the business and our customers each and every day.”