Thursday 17 July 2008

Planners bid to keep discount store out of top shopping area

A DISCOUNT supermarket chain has a fight on its hands if it wants to take over one of the most fashionable buildings in Dublin's top shopping area.

German discounter Lidl is one of only two businesses targeting the former Habitat store on College Green, just off Dublin's Grafton Street.

But planning body An Taisce has warned it will fight the application, saying upmarket stores are needed, not cut-price retailers.

It has emerged that US clothing giant Abercrombie surveyed the premises but told shocked officials it would not open a store near Grafton Street due to its "poor image and unattractive mix of shops."

An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland that deals with sensitive planning issues, are opposed to Lidl leasing the illustrious property. An Taisce spokesman Kevin Duff said upmarket retailers, rather than discount supermarkets, were required to make the street more attractive.

"The aim of the conservation area initiative for Grafton Street was to improve the tone of the area with an increased number of so-called 'higher-order' shops," Mr Duff said. "If Lidl leases the building in question, it will be a step back from whatever progress they had made."


Consumer and business groups have supported Lidl, claiming consumer choice must not be restricted by an appetite for high-end retailers. Dublin City Business Association chief executive Tom Coffey said a discount supermarket at such a central location would be good news for the consumer.

"We're absolutely in favour of it. It would provide a good service for Dublin city residents who want to purchase groceries at a reasonable price," he said.

A recent report showed Lidl and fellow discount chain Aldi have been the main beneficiaries of the credit crunch, with over 25pc of shoppers now spreading their spending over different supermarkets. The National Consumer Agency report showed that of the shoppers who have changed their habits, 61pc were shopping at Lidl and 54pc at Aldi.

A spokesperson for Lidl was unavailable for comment.

Liam Murray
Irish Independent

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