Ryan McDonnell

Source: Lidl

McDonnell said planning objections and legal challenges from rival supermarkets to Lidl’s new store openings were ‘at the moment part of the landscape’

Lidl is well stocked for Christmas despite experiencing localised availability issues during the summer, the discounter’s CEO said this week.

Speaking as the business announced its latest full-year results, Lidl GB chief Ryan McDonnell acknowledged there had been sporadic localised availability issues throughout the summer for various reasons.

The discounter’s social media team was kept busy responding to tweets complaining of empty shelves in August. In September, the team twice tweeted Lidl was “experiencing some issues in our DCs” in reply to separate complaints about two stores.

“We are always going to have localised issues from time to time,” said McDonnell, who took over from Christian Härtnagel in March.

“This year has been difficult as well. It’s well publicised and documented that supply chains have been frayed, but nothing fundamental for us. Certainly, localised issues from time to time throughout the summer, but we’re well stocked for Christmas.”

He said the causes of the issues could have been “anything from specific distribution centres” to “local delivery issues or ordering issues internally”.

Revenues increased 1.5% to £7.8bn in the year ended 28 February 2022 as the business continued to expand its estate. It opened an additional 53 shops in the period, ending the year with 918.

Earnings before interest and tax jumped 80% to £79m, while pre-tax profits ballooned more than 300% from £9.8m to £41.1m.

On the profit growth, McDonnell said: “At the end of the day, it’s £40m pre-tax profit on sales of almost £8bn, so you’re still talking about a business model that’s running lean and mean.”

He said £58m in spend had switched from the four main traditional supermarkets in the last four weeks.

The Grocer reported in September that both Lidl and Aldi were facing disruption to store openings through regular planning objections and legal challenges from rival supermarkets, causing delays potentially running into years.

Commenting yesterday, McDonnell said of the competitor objections: “At the moment it seems to be part of the landscape. A brand like ours – with a known a pipeline [of new stores], it’s well known how active we are in expansion – I think this is part and parcel of a competitive environment.

“We’re not getting too bogged down in it. I’m happy that we’re acquiring sites, we’re moving forward. We’re going to have another 15 stores before Christmas. I think by the end of this financial year, which is the end of February, we’ll have registered another 50 stores.

“We’re happy with the pipeline that we’ve accumulated. With Luton opening next year as well – a monster distribution centre which can serve up to 100 stores – we’re just not getting distracted by that.”

He said Lidl was on track to hit its target of 1,100 stores by 2025.