Lidl has opened its newly extended distribution centre in Mullingar, Co Westmeath today following an €80m investment.

The facility supported 1,000 jobs during construction, and will now lead to the creation of 100 new, permanent jobs.

The centre is part of Lidl's €550m three year expansion plan first announced in 2021.

"The size of the distribution centre here in Mullingar is 62,000 square meters - that's about four times the size of Croke Park," said Alan Barry, chief development officer for Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"This will be Lidl's largest on the island of Ireland, and indeed one of the biggst distribution centres on the island altogether."

He said the retailer's centralised distrbution network was a more efficient way of moving stock to its stores around the country, which helped it to keep costs down.

The Mullingar centre now also has close to 3,000 solar panels, which will allow it to generate roughly 20% of its energy needs.

All of this will allow Lidl to offer more competitive prices to consumers, Mr Barry said.

"All of those initiatives and cost-saving measures we will be able to pass on to the consumer," he said.

"We are conscious now more than ever that more people are choosing discounters and choosing Lidl for their daily shop, and that's important that we have the infrastructure to expand and to continue to offer them cost-savings to the customer."

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Lidl currently has 177 stores around the country, with plans to open two more later this year.

Mr Barry said it had deployed around 70% of the €550m investment announced in 2021, but its expansion in Ireland would not stop once that programme is complete.

"We have ambitions to open in excess of 200 stores," he said. "We mentioned about 50 more stores back in 2021, and that figure still stands.

"But it's not just about the stores - we work with 400 Irish suppliers, we purchase over €1bn of goods from Irish suppliers every year and we export €318m to other Lidl stores from our Irish suppliers.

"So it's very important not just for our own store network, but for the businesses we work with and the staff we work with in Ireland as well."