Written by by Lisa Respers France, CNN
If life were fair, the latest job outlook reports will be a boon for the British retail sector.
Discount German grocery store chain Lidl, which has gained a presence in the UK with the help of a £3 billion ($3.9 billion) funding from its wealthy backers, has promised 4,000 new British jobs by 2025.
The announcement comes as UK supermarket giant Asda announced that 1,700 jobs would be lost following its merger with the US grocery retailer Walmart in 2015, and another 600 jobs cuts were announced in April as part of a major reorganization at Germany’s Aldi
It also arrives at a time when the British economy is experiencing its toughest period since the financial crisis of 2008. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reported that in May retail sales slumped by the biggest amount since August 2013, as consumers turned increasingly cautious in the face of rising inflation.
But Lidl, which has grown at an unprecedented rate over the past decade, has proven to be a hit with consumers, who seem to relish its budget food lines as a cheaper alternative to the usual supermarket chains, while company executives say they’re tapping into a demographic that’s uneasy with UK supermarkets.
Around 40% of all Lidl shoppers are under the age of 35. “These are people who don’t really have any other options in this market,” Matt Davies, Lidl’s UK and Ireland chief executive, told CNNMoney.
To capitalize on this, Lidl has been investing heavily in its stores and extending its product range, which now include 30,000 items across 700 products.
While the chain says it is trying to keep prices low, it doesn’t always manage that goal, Davies told CNNMoney. In recent months, prices have risen for some items — such as mineral water, yeast extract, fresh garlic and fish fillets — as the British pound tumbled following the Brexit vote. The company now sells everyday essentials, but is hoping the promise of more jobs will boost its reputation as a bargain store.
Lidl now claims to employ more than 56,000 workers in the UK — which means that for every 4,000 new jobs, as promised, at least one current Lidl employee will be moved to another position within the company. Lidl UK CEO Chris Morris said he hopes these changes will create a more “engaged and experienced” workforce.