ECONOMY

Lidl to invest as consumers tighten belts

German discount retailer Lidl plans to invest 100 million euros in building up its Greek network this year at a time where plummeting consumption has prompted some foreign retailers to pull out of the local market.

Lidl plans to have 220 stores in operation across Greece by the end of the year, versus 206 currently, it said in a statement.

Its top priorities in 2011 include opening new retail outlets and refurbishing existing ones.

Over the next 12 months, Lidl plans to spend 12 million euros on upgrading 35 of its stores in a move that will help it reduce energy consumption, the company said.

In 2010, the German company conducted improvements on 20 branches at a cost of 5.5 million euros.

Greece?s shrinking economy is taking its toll on the retail sector as consumers tighten their purse strings after recent austerity measures increased taxes sharply and resulted in a sharp drop in public spending.

Lidl?s rival Aldi, which has been present in Greece since November 2008, announced in July it had decided to stop operating its 38-branch local network and had begun looking for a buyer.

In the same month, French multimedia retailer FNAC decided to bring an end to its five years of business in Greece and shut down its three branches in the country.