THE international foodstore operator Aldi is planning to open three, new stores in the Limerick area, county councillors from the Adare area have been told.
One store is planned for the city centre, planning consultant representing Aldi, John Spain told the Adare area meeting, a second in the Ennis Road area and they are also hoping to locate in the Southern Environs, the Raheen/Doordadoyle/Mungret area.
Aldi is in discussion with Limerick City Council, Mr Spain said, but said the county development plan and the local area plan for the Southern Environs would have to be changed to permit a store to open in the suburbs with the creation of up to 20 full and part-time jobs.
â€œWe donâ€™t have a specific location in mind,â€ Mr Spain said. But the group had looked at a number of possibilities. However, he added: â€œThey canâ€™t be pursued unless there is some prospect of taking the planning forward in terms of zoning.â€
In a presentation to councillors, Mr Spain explained that current policy on retail planning restricts any â€œneighbourhoodâ€ foodstore to 900 square metres and any neighbourhood centre cannot exceed 1,500 square metres in total.
Aldi â€œdiscount foodstoresâ€, he said, normally take up 990 square metres of floor space and with total space of 1,500 square metres. And he gave examples of how such stores had been accommodated as neighbourhood stores in urban areas in different areas of the country.
Mr Spain argued that an Aldi store in the Southern Environs would not clash with other grocery outlets. â€œPeople canâ€™t get their full weekly shop in a discount foodstore,â€ he said but together with other shops, â€œthey make a very good retail offer.â€
There would be a spin-off for existing stores, he said, and another benefit would be a reduction in travelling outside the neighbourhood. An Aldi shop in the southern environs would not be taking any trade away from the city centre, he also stressed.
Aldi, Mr Spain said, had carried out a quantitative assessment, looking at expenditure per capita in the area and potential turnover and had concluded that there was more than adequate disposable income to support a discount foodstore. It would also improve consumer choice, he argued.
â€œI welcome anything that will provide better value for the people I represent,â€ Cllr Richie Butler said and he pointed out that if the guidelines were changed, Aldi would not be the only ones to benefit.
â€œIt would be open to everybody,â€ he said but pointed out that the area committee did not have the power to make the change suggested.
He had no hesitation however in sending the matter to the full council for a decision, he said.
This was seconded by Cllr Rose Brennan and agreed by the area committee.