Lidl names town centre site as battle of budget stores starts

Tunbridge Wells Lidl to open in spring as construction work starts
LIDL: How the new store may look

The Times can now disclose that the low-cost grocery chain has acquired half of the site currently occupied by Homebase in Linden Park Road, Broadwater Lane, near to the Spa Valley Railway.

Homebase, which will continue to trade on the site, has split its store in half, with the DIY retailer operating out of one side, while Lidl plans to operate out of the other.

A spokesperson for Homebase told the Times this week: “We can confirm that the unit on Broadwater Lane has been split and that this space has been acquired by Lidl. Our Tunbridge Wells store will continue to operate as per usual.”

It is unclear whether the supermarket giant will have to apply for new planning permission from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council before it can begin operating from the DIY store, but existing permission for the site does allow for a ‘retail food store and retail warehouse’.

The news follows last year’s opening of Aldi in Tunbridge Wells – chief rival to Lidl – which opened in the former Toys R Us unit in the Great Lodge Retail Park in Longfield Road, last October.

Both German retailers have been opening stores up and down the country as they jostle for customers.

Aldi has invested around £1billion in new supermarket openings and is aiming ‘to open a new store in the UK every week over the next two years’, increasing its existing 840 stores by more than 100.

Similarly, Lidl, which first entered the UK market in 1994 and now employs over 22,500 workers, is planning 230 openings over the next few years, which will see it have nearly 1,000 branches in Britain.

Aldi is currently edging its rival with a 6.8 per cent market share compared to Lidl’s 5.9 per cent.

The nearest Lidl store at the moment is Quarry Hill Road, Tonbridge, around five miles away from the planned site.

It is unknown when the town’s newest supermarket will be open for business, with a spokesman for Lidl refusing to be drawn on the plans.

He would only say: “We are in the process of exploring various options to bring a Lidl store to Tunbridge Wells and look forward to sharing any firm plans with the community, as soon as we’re in a position to do so.”

The news Lidl is opening a branch in the location may not be welcomed by everybody, as the new supermarket will be opening directly opposite rivals Sainsbury’s.

The British supermarket giant, which is currently the UK’s third largest, has a market share of around 15 per cent, but has seen its profits wiped out following its recent takeover of Argos.

The firm recently announced it will be cutting hundreds of jobs in management, following the merger, and is overhauling its business, closing around 15 supermarkets and dozens of Argos stores.

Sainsbury’s declined to comment on their newest rival coming to Tunbridge Wells.

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