Aldi decries planning ‘obstruction’ as Tesco and SuperValu object to its stores

Retailer says rivals have repeatedly objected to its planning applications nationwide

Over the last four years, Aldi has submitted 33 planning applications for new stores. These applications have sparked about 35 formal objections from commercial rivals. Photograph: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

Over the last four years, Aldi has submitted 33 planning applications for new stores. These applications have sparked about 35 formal objections from commercial rivals. Photograph: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

 

German discount grocer Aldi says it has been subject to “resistance and obstruction from other retailers”, such as its rivals Tesco and SuperValu which have in recent years objected to a slew of its planning applications nationwide.

Aldi, which has 11.2 per cent of the Irish market and is in the midst of a €100 million expansion plan, accuses its rivals of using planning objections to “deny consumers access to choice and competition in their local communities”.

An analysis of planning records by The Irish Times shows that, over the last four years, Aldi has submitted 33 planning applications for new stores. These applications have sparked about 35 formal objections from commercial rivals.

In some cases, large numbers of workers employed in rival stores have also separately objected to Aldi developments in letters using similar language and layouts to each other.

Of the proposed Aldi stores that were subject to objections from commercial rivals, more than one-third had their planning applications refused by planners. Aldi blamed “repeat objectors” for allegedly hampering job growth.

Tesco Ireland has objected to 16 separate proposed Aldi developments in recent years, with a large concentration in the Leinster and greater Dublin regions, such as on the Malahide Road in Dublin and in Leixlip.

Refused planning

Of the Aldi developments objected to by the former market leader Tesco, almost half were refused planning.

Tesco said last night that it objects on a case-by-case basis and “[only] where there is a legitimate planning ground or precedent to justify the objection”.

RGdata, the retail trade association whose membership includes a large number of independent operators, including a number under the SuperValu banner, also filed a large number of objections. These included Ardee in Louth, Athy in Kildare and Graiguenamanagh in Kilkenny.

Tara Buckley, the director general of RGdata, who personally signs many of the objections, acknowledged last night that it regularly objects to planning applications by the German discounters, Aldi and Lidl.

“But this is because the discounters often apply for edge-of-town locations where people cannot walk to, which can be against guidelines,” she said.

Clear policy

“We have a clear policy. We make objections if we believe the retail planning guidelines are not being adhered to. Towns are suffering from the impact [of out-of-town grocery shopping].”

More than 10 individually-operated SuperValu stores also objected in recent years to Aldi’s, the analysis shows, including in Roscrea in Tipperary, Bailieborough in Cavan and Bray in Wicklow.

Planning records for the Bray application show a large number of SuperValu staff in the town also objected, as well as their trade union representatives.

SuperValu and RGdata have objected to close to 20 proposed Aldi stores since the beginning of 2014.

Musgrave, the SuperValu brand owner, said it does “ not have a [group] wide policy with regards to planning permissions across our network”.