Lidl is building a distribution centre at the site of the former Northfleet power station

Lidl UK is set to open a new £40m distribution centre to help it deal with a recent surge in fresh produce sales.

The new 20,000 sq m distribution centre, which will be built at the site of the old Northfleet power station in Crete Hall Road, Kent, will manage deliveries of fresh produce into London and the South East. The discounter first submitted a planning application to renovate the power station to Gravesham Council in 2010.

“This new centre in Northfleet marks an exciting moment for us because not only will it enable us to serve our customers more fresh produce than ever before, but we are able to renovate a dilapidated landmark in the area, and at the same time, create 150 new local jobs,” said Oliver McGuinness, Lidl’s regional property director.

With eight regional distribution centres already operational in the UK, Lidl plans to open a further 30 stores across the UK and invest £200m in its property portfolio this year.

The surge in fresh produce sales could be down to the ‘Healthy Till’ concept Lidl recently trialled at 600 of its stores. The concept, which was part of the retailer’s pledge to the Responsibility Deal, saw ‘treat’ items such as chocolate replaced by fresh fruit at checkout areas. A final decision on the concept is expected early next year.

A Lidl spokeswoman told The Grocer: “We’re going to be going down to one till to accommodate Christmas merchandising and then at the end of this month we’re going to make a decision on the Healthy Tills going forward from January next year.”