Lidl Ireland has announced the creation of seven hundred jobs in the country this year bringing the workforce at the supermarket to over 6,000 in the Republic and over 7,500 on the island.
Speaking at a branch of Lidl in Carrigaline, Co Cork, Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Simon Coveney said that credit was due to the supermarket chain for investing heavily in Ireland -- not only in terms of hiring personnel but in purchasing Irish products.
Minister Coveney also praised the company for giving a pay rise to all of their employees.
"They are going to employ an extra 700 people across the country this year. Probably four or five new stores. And also, which is equally important, they are deciding to give a very significant pay rise to all of their staff which averages out at about seven and a half percent of an increase for everybody.
So I think they are sending a very strong signal that they are committed to Ireland, they want to grow here, they want to employ Irish people and they want to build new stores."
Minister Coveney said that the significant jobs creation at Lidl was a sign of "real confidence" in the retail sector in Ireland.
He stated that the support of Government and the decision by companies such as Lidl to increase wages would go a long way towards helping families through the cost of living crisis.
“Well look the Government has already put a very strong package in place in terms of responding to the increased cost of living. Helping homes to pay their energy bills, helping businesses to do the same and looking to try to increase income levels for people on fixed incomes. As well as reducing the tax burden on middle-income earners as well.
Don’t forget we announced perhaps the biggest Budget ever only a few months ago. And the Government has said that it will continue to support people through the cost of living pressures this year as well and we have put money aside to do that.
The combination of businesses like Lidl agreeing to pay their staff more and the Government supporting people, particularly on low incomes we will do everything we can to help families through what is a cost of living crisis over the next couple of months."
This year will see the opening of a range of new Lidl stores including Kilkenny, Ballincollig, Bettystown, Limerick and the completion of a €75 million extension of the retailer’s Mullingar Distribution Centre.
Lidl also announced a €14 million investment in pay increases for its existing workforce in the Republic of Ireland with a further £3 million being invested in the retailers’ operations in Northern Ireland which it operates from its head office in Dublin.
All employees will benefit from an increase from March 1st. On average this will result in a 7.5% pay increase for employees, approximately between €2,000-€2,500 additional for every employee per annum.
This increase is in addition to the retailer’s commitment in October to paying the new Living Wage rate of €13.85 as recommended by the Living Wage Technical Group.
Meanwhile, Maeve McCleane, Chief People Officer at Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland said that the removal of the mandatory retirement age at Lidl in August of last year had been "very well received" by their colleagues.
"And also it proves to be very beneficial then in recruitment as well. We are looking at (the fact) that people are going to be living longer.
I read a statistic the other day that anyone born after the year 2000 their life expectancy is now a hundred. So to expect that people are going to retire at sixty or sixty-five is probably not realistic.
And for longevity, we want to see people working for longer if they want to. That opportunity is there. That people are not forced to leave the workforce because of the mandatory retirement age.
For us, it is great because it means we have a much more diverse workforce. We have a broader range of skills that stay in the business."
Ms McCleane added that Lidl was keenly aware of the cost of living crisis and was doing everything in its power to keep prices low.
"We have always been committed to keeping our prices as low as we possibly can and ensuring that any cost because of an increase in (the price) of doing business is not passed on to our customers."