Wednesday, November 27, 2019

LIDL’S new distribution centre in Newbridge, the scale of which is breathtaking, was officially opened last Friday by minister for finance Paschal Donohue. The 58,000 square meter facility represents the single largest investment made by Lidl in Ireland since arriving in the market in 2000 and is double the size of its existing distribution centre in Newbridge.

Fully operational from today (Tuesday), the state-of-the-art facility has the capacity to serve Lidl’s network of 90 stores in the Leinster area and can house 49 million products. Over 60% of those products will come from the 225-strong network of Irish suppliers. Several of those local suppliers were on hand for the official opening.

John O’Brien, MD of O’Brien Fine Foods, explained that they’ve been working with Lidl since 2011 and remarked that the new centre gives Lidl “greater capacity to grow, which will ultimately lead to our growth”. Aidan Comerford, sales director for Newbridge-based baked goods supplier Comerford Brothers, described it as a “fantastic building” and a huge commitment to the county.

The project saw up to 2,000 construction jobs created during that phase, which was managed by John Paul Construction. One hundred new full-time roles are to be created in addition to the 250 permanent staff who will move over from the existing distribution centre.

Minister Donohue congratulated everybody who was involved in the delivery of an “absolutely extraordinary” project, adding that his own career before politics began in retail. He described the investment as one that matches “any kind of investment that any other company is making in Ireland at the moment”.

“The commissioning of Lidl’s new distribution centre is a huge investment by the company in Ireland and a vote of confidence in the economy,” he said. “It is also a welcome development for the people of Kildare, who will benefit from the creation of 100 new jobs, in addition to the 250 people that Lidl already employs in the region.”

Equivalent to three Aviva stadia, the scale of the new centre is staggering, its vastness emphasised by various signposts helpfully pointing the way to the admin block or the freezer area for any lost soul. A key aspect is sustainability, not least of all a €1m investment in a rooftop solar panel array which is the largest on any building in the Republic. Over 4,000 panels will generate more than 25% of the facility’s energy requirements and will reduce the centre’s carbon footprint by around 473 tonnes annually – the equivalent of taking 175 cars off the road every year.

Other sustainability initiatives include heat recovery from refrigeration, a commitment to zero waste to landfill, rainwater harvesting, and biodiversity features such as a wildflower meadow to promote pollination and beehives, bat boxes and insect hotels. Small wonder that it’s heralded as one of the most sustainable logistics facilities in Europe.

Lidl has announced that customers will also benefit in the form of cost savings – effective from January 2020, they will benefit from a price reduction on 500 products. That announcement comes days after the company’s commitment to its employees to match the latest rate of €12.30 as recommended by the Living Wage Technical Group, a change that will benefit 800 employees across the country.

JP Scally, managing director of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, has said that the company’s investment in this facility is due to the requirements of a growing business but also because it sees an opportunity to increase efficiencies in its business model.

“First and foremost, this new distribution centre is good news for our customers. By increasing our storage capacity and streamlining our supply chains, we will achieve even higher levels of efficiencies and in turn deliver considerable savings to shoppers across the country. That means lower prices on the same quality produce, and more money back in our customers’ pockets,” he said.

“It is important for us that we ensure our build is future-proofed and that we are expanding sustainably. By investing at the scale that we have, we’ve ensured that we have the ability to supply Ireland’s growing population efficiently and consistently long into the future.”

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By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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