Lidl store front

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Lidl has committed to opening another 235 stores across the UK, creating up to 4,000 jobs.

It comes as the discounter revealed a bounce back into the black in the year ended 28 February 2021 as revenues jumped 12% to £7.7bn.

The rise in sales throughout the pandemic helped Lidl move from a £25.2m pre-tax loss in the previous year to profits of £9.8m. Earnings before interest and tax was also up 311% to £44m.

Lidl said today it aimed to have 1,100 stores in its estate by 2025, increasing its previous goal of 1,000 sites by 2023, which it also added was on track.

It opened 55 shops during the financial year, despite the challenges of the pandemic, to take its estate to 865 strong.

Lidl GB CEO Christian Härtnagel said the business delivered “an impressive trading performance” in the period, supported by continued investment in new and existing stores, product innovation and people.

“All of this contributed to growth in our revenue and profits and positions us well for further growth in the years to come,” he added

“I want to thank all colleagues for their hard work and dedication as they continued to serve our customers amid very challenging conditions.”

Lidl invested more than £17.5m in colleague remuneration during the period: £8m in raising hourly wages for colleagues and a £9.5m one-off thank you payment and gift voucher given to colleagues in recognition of efforts during the pandemic.

Härtnagel said: “Looking ahead, we remain confident in our strategy, our stores-first approach and we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide our customers with the best quality products at the lowest prices.

“We continue to see tremendous opportunity in the market and that is why today we are announcing our new target of 1,100 stores by the end of 2025. We’re really excited to bring our Lidl offering – great quality products at market leading prices – to even more towns and cities across the country.”

Morning update

Britvic has reported a ‘strong’ recovery from the pandemic headwinds that have hit the drinks industry as the out-of-home market reopened following lockdowns across the world.

Revenues in the year ended 30 September 2021 fell just 0.5% to £1.4bn and were up 6.6% when taking currency translation into account.

Adjusted EBIT rose 6.5% to £176.5m and statutory EBIT jumped 23.3% to £160.7m.

Growth in Great Britain and Brazil was led by Britvic’s portfolio of household favourite brands such as Robinsons and Tango as demand for at-home consumption remained elevated, while the out-of-home channel rebounded in the second half of the year.

The lifting of Covid restrictions in the UK benefitted the group as brands such as Fruit Shoot and J20 returned to growth as schools and bars and restaurants reopened.

Britvic also revealed a 12% dividend for the year, which it said reflected the board’s confidence in the group’s prospects and strong balance sheet.

CEO Simon Litherland said: “This year we have recovered strongly from the effects of the pandemic, with underlying revenue, margin, and profit all in growth.”

Looking ahead, he added, he was confidence the group would continue to deliver consistent returns to shareholders as it executed its growth strategy.

“While there are multiple operational headwinds leading to increased inflation, we are confident we will mitigate them through a combination of our agile and resilient supply chain, revenue management and cost saving actions. In 2022 we anticipate making further progress with revenue, profit and margin ahead of 2021.”

Shares in Britvic spiked 1.1% higher to 887.5p.

The FTSE 100 continued to make gains first thing, up 0.5% to 7,302.9p.

Early risers included McColl’s Retail Group, which bounced back 9.8% to 13p, and soft drinks group Nichols, up 4.1% to 1,384.5p.

Parsley Box Group is down 5% to 43.3p and Kerry Group is 4.6% lower at €110.10.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 shrugged off turmoil in US markets and worries about fresh Covid lockdowns in Europe to rise 0.2% to 7,266.69pts yesterday.

Meat supplier Cranswick increased 1.1% to 3,671.4p as demand for poultry helped it boost revenues 6.6% to £993m in the first half despite difficulties in the pork market.

Catering giant Compass leapt 5.7% higher to 1,556.5p as profits continued to recover in the 12 months to the end of September thanks to the reopening of society.

Pets at Home also celebrated a boost as shares climbed 5.5% to 483.6p following an 18% jump in sales in its latest financial year.

Other risers included Hotel Chocolat Group, McColl’s Retail Group and Science in Sport, up 3.4% to 486p, 2.8% to 11,8p and 2.4% to 63.5p.

Losers included McBride, down 5% to 66p, Ocado Group, down 4.7% to 1,806.5p, and Domino’s Pizza Group, dpwn 3.4% to 362.2p.