German discount multiple Lidl is to open seven stores in the Republic of Ireland on July 20 followed by another three by the end of the month in the main regional towns. This year the company is reported to be spending more than I£50m in Ireland. Lidl's long awaited arrival in the republic, along with interest from Aldi, will shake up the Irish grocery market with prices 30% below existing multiples. Lidl began targeting sites a year ago. It is understood Lidl intends to stock fresh Irish products. But Jim Curran of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association is doubtful. "Customers may be attracted in with below cost gimmicks while at the same time Lidl expands its stock range to include non grocery products imported from Germany." With 90% of Lidl products being own label, he has called for "the local supplier to get the option of the business". He added: "If they can't get a foothold in the domestic market, small Irish manufacturers will find it very difficult to contemplate foreign markets." Lidl's arrival has highlighted the government's proposal to amend the Groceries Order which bans below cost selling. Curran said: "We would object to any removal of the ban because instead of creating competition, it will do the opposite. It will lead to a high concentration of multiples. By Lidl concentrating on regional towns, they will be able to operate at below cost for sustainable periods ­ until the local competition is removed." {{NEWS }}