• Lidl to double UK store openings to between 50 and 60 a year
  • ‘Fastest ever’ opening rate, boss says
  • £1.5bn available to fund expansion push

Lidl intends to open another 60 stores per year in the UK and has amassed a £1.5bn war chest to fund the programme.

Lidl opened 30 shops last year and now has 670, but there are many locations where shoppers do not have a branch sufficiently close, UK chief executive Christian Härtnagel told The Telegraph.

Härtnagel aims to open “at least one shop a week” and said that Lidl has already agreed locations for between 50 and 60 shops a year for the next two years, compared with 30 last year.

“That is the fastest we have ever grown in the UK,” he told the newspaper.

The grocer’s market share now stands at 5% following its rapid growth as shoppers have switched from established supermarkets and headed for Lidl and value rival Aldi.

Approximately 50% of Britons shopped at a Lidl store last year as it made the most of a reputation for quality as well as low prices.

Härtnagel said Lidl’s profits will be lower this year “because of the huge investment figure and the effect of Brexit”.

However, he said “we are privately owned and we are still focused on our long-term profitability”.

About 25% of Lidl’s UK staff are from outside the EU and Härtnagel hoped for “clarity” on their status.

He said: “A quarter of our employees have an unclear status at the moment due to Brexit and I hope the significance of this means that the movement of people will have the highest agenda it can have in negotiations.

“We need clarity for our colleagues here but also for our UK employees who are working for Lidl in different countries. I just want to have clarity, because then I can prepare.”