Lidl has followed the lead of Aldi and Tesco by announcing it will refund over £100 million in business rates relief aimed at supporting UK businesses during the pandemic. Lidl GB said that the business rates holiday allowed the discounter to make significant quick unplanned investments in its operations, infrastructure and people to manage customer demand.
In the past nine months, Lidl has recruited 2,500 temporary colleagues and has been dramatically increasing stock levels, investing in infrastructure to ensure security of supply, and introducing safety equipment, including 4 million masks and 5,000 protective checkout screens.
Christian Härtnagel, CEO Lidl GB, said: “In March, Lidl, along with the rest of the supermarket sector, found itself on the front line of a truly unique set of circumstances and was incredibly grateful for support from government. We’ve been considering this for some time, and we are now in a position to confirm that we will be refunding this money as we believe it is the right thing to do. We feel confident that the business is well positioned to navigate and adapt to any further challenges brought by Covid-19.”
Lidl said it is continuing to invest heavily to ensure its people, customers and suppliers stay safe. Its long-term strategy, however, remains unchanged with the business continuing to grow with new customers shopping in stores each week, and its commitment to never being beaten on price stronger than ever.
In July, the discounter announced its intention to open 25 new stores by Christmas this year and is on track to meet that target. Its £1.3bn investment plans for 2021 and 2022 will drive the opening of 100 additional stores across the UK, creating around 4,000 jobs. The retailer also recently announced its commitment to increase the wages of all colleagues on hourly rates, in line with those advocated by the Living Wage Foundation, directly benefiting over 80 per cent of its workforce.