LONDON Dec 16 Discount supermarket Lidl UK
has been given local government approval to build a
new London head office for its British business, clearing a
significant hurdle to a 70 million pounds ($87 million)
investment, it said on Friday.
German-owned Lidl, which has won market share from bigger
rivals Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and
Morrisons, but has seen its rate of sales growth slow
this year, said the Royal Borough of Kingston's planning
committee had decided to grant permission for the proposed
development at Tolworth, southwest London.
Plans for the new headquarters, together with investment in
a new British distribution centre and an aggressive store
expansion programme, show Lidl's appetite to invest in the UK
has not been diminished by uncertainties caused by Britain's
June vote to leave the European Union.
Kingston's consent will now be referred to the London
Mayor's office for final approval.
"We hope to receive the Mayor of London's feedback and to
progress with the plans early in the new year," said Ingo
Fischer, Lidl UK director for expansion and development.
The planned 240,000 square feet (22,300 square metre) office
will replace Lidl's current Wimbledon headquarters which it has
"Our new headquarters not only signify an investment in our
own infrastructure and workforce, but also highlight our wider
investment ambitions within London as Lidl UK continues to
experience incredible growth," said Fischer.
Earlier this month Lidl said it would spend 70 million
pounds building a new distribution centre in Britain next year,
creating 500 jobs.
Before the June referendum, campaigners in favour of
remaining in the EU had warned that international companies
could reduce their presence in Britain as a withdrawal from the
bloc would make it a less attractive place to invest.
But Lidl is sticking to plans announced in 2015 to invest
1.5 billion pounds over three years on expanding its store and
logistics network with a view to having 1,500 stores in Britain
in the long term. It currently trades from about 640.
In September the firm's UK business parted company with its
long-term chief executive Ronny Gottschlich, replacing him with
Christian Härtnagel, a little known Lidl executive who was
previously in charge of sales and operations in Austria.
($1 = 0.8055 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Adrian Croft)