Lidl appoints Irish man Ken McGrath as deputy chairman

Executive expected to take over top board role in the near future

Lidl has more than 12,000 stores worldwide including 210 in Ireland and a market value of close to €10bn. File photograph: The Irish Times

German grocery chain Lidl has appointed Irish man Ken McGrath as its new deputy chairman with responsibility for the group's global business.

The company, which has more than 12,000 stores worldwide including 210 in Ireland and a market value of close to €10 billion, said Mr McGrath would take up the position in October.

He is expected to eventually replace Gerd Chrzanowski, the current head of Lidl International, who is leaving to become chairman of the Schwarz Gruppe, the parent company of Lidl and German hypermarket chain Kaufland.

Mr McGrath, originally from Cork, was formerly the chief executive of Lidl Ireland between 2009 and 2013 and is credited with growing the retailer’s sales and market share here.


Foray into US market

He left the position in 2013 to oversee Lidl’s first foray into the US market. It now has more than 100 stores there, primarily on the east coast.

Mr McGrath then went to work for Denis O’Brien’s Digicel, heading up the group’s Caribbean operation. More recently, he was chief executive of the US discount brand Save-A-Lot.

Mr Chrzanowski welcomed Mr McGrath back into the fold, highlighting his experience and success in the retail sector.

“I am very pleased that with Kenneth McGrath we have been able to win back an international retail expert and experienced manager, who has already contributed to our success,” said Mr Chrzanowski.

Lidl Ireland announced last month that it is to invest more than €75 million in an extension of its regional distribution centre at Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Upon completion, the new development at Robinstown will increase the capacity of the German retailer's facility to about 62,000sq m (667,362sq ft) making it one of the largest buildings in the country.

The retail chain employs close to 400 people across its two stores and distribution centre in Mullingar and more than 5,000 in Ireland.

The Mullingar investment is part of a three-year, €550 million investment in its Irish operation which will include the strategic development of 20 new stores and redevelopment of 24 more across the island.

Lidl has already invested €1.5 billion in the Irish market since its entry in 2000. It now has a 12 per cent share of the Irish grocery market.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times