Discount chain Aldi has embarked on a major expansion drive in the Irish Republic, taking out advertisements in the Irish national press seeking sites in 80 different locations.
The company has 14 stores, and has paid E25m in recent weeks for key sites in the Dublin suburbs and in Ballyphenane and Douglas, outside Cork City.
The adverts offered attractive commission to selling agents with a speedy response guaranteed. Aldi said it wanted stores of about 1,200 sq m (13,000 sq ft) plus 100 car parking spaces. It added that its preference was for freehold greenfield or brownfield sites of 4,000 sq m (43,000 sq ft) upwards, ideally with main road frontage. But it said it would consider leasing space in retail parks or purchasing existing retail premises.
The Irish planning system could act as a brake against rapid expansion. It accepts appeals by third party objectors and getting the go-ahead for a store can be a lengthy process. The discounter has approval for 10 new outlets, with another 25 being considered by councils.
Aldi and Lidl have a combined Irish market share of over 5%, and rising. A report earlier this year by Merrion Stockbrokers predicted their share would treble by 2009, with sales topping E1bn.
Anthony Garvey