Plans for Preston's fifth Aldi supermarket see city's store wars hot up
Preston could get yet another Aldi supermarket as budget store wars hot up in the city.
A new multi-million pound shopping development on the Docklands complex has been announced, with the German discounter taking up one of two large units.
If approved by the council it would by Aldi' s fifth store in Preston - with a sixth planned for a new local centre in Cottam.
Its arch-rival Lidl has three in the city and has plans to add another three, along with others in Penwortham and Bamber Bridge.
And with B&M now trading from four stores, Home Bargains having two more, along with Oops! in Corporation Street and Russian cut-price firm Mere joining the race for the discount pound, shoppers in Preston have never had it so good.
The latest Aldi store was revealed in a planning application submitted to the city council this week.
The Trident Centre, behind the KFC restaurant and DW Fitness Gym, will replace the former headquarters of a holiday company and its call centre.
The developers want to flatten the buildings and clear the site before building two huge retail units, with Aldi occupying one of them and an as-yet unnamed "mixed goods variety discount store" taking the other.
Aldi has already exchanged contracts to add the location to its four others in the city - Deepdale Retail Park, the Queens Shopping Park, Corporation Street and the new Fulwood Central retail site off Eastway.
And its Preston portfolio will increase to six when the Old Brickworks site in Cottam completes its local centre to serve thousands of new homes being built in that part of the city.
The proposed Aldi on the docks will be in direct competition with the giant Morrisons supermarket and a B&M store which are both not far away on the side the marina.
It will also be less than 500-metres away from the Lidl store on Strand Road.
That is one of three which Aldi's rivals currently have in Preston, although Lidl have already announced they want to double their presence locally with supermarkets in the central, east and south parts of the city.
Both firms are spending big to increase their trading base in the UK, each pledging to commit £1.3bn to new stores over the next couple of years.
The empty office complex on the docks, which will be bulldozed to make way for the Trident Centre stores, was the former home of the Gold Medal Travel Group.
It has been empty since the company moved out to new premises in Leyland in 2019. Efforts to market the building have proved fruitless, with only "limited" interest shown in renting it.
Architects on behalf of Commercial Development Projects Ltd of Huddersfield say the aim is to replace it with two new high quality retail units "creating a sense of place and a development with character."
"It is intended that the second proposed unit would be occupied by a mixed goods variety discount store or a bulky goods retailer.
"The development will dramatically improve the street scene through the redevelopment of a long term vacant and under-utilised site.
"The previous occupants vacated it in May 2019 and since then (there has been) very limited interest from potential occupiers or developers to re-use the site for employment purposes and there is no viable demand for the property in its established use or current form."
News of the proposed store comes just days after Aldi launched a recruitment drive to fill vacancies at a new store in Tarleton which is due to open in May.
The company is also looking for two store assistants for its town centre Corporation Street store, three each for its Longridge, Deepdale, Bamber Bridge and Garstang stores and four at both its Queen’s Retail Park and Fulwood stores.
Aldi now has around 920 stores nationwide and employs 38,000 staff. It plans to open 15 new stores across the UK before the end of this year, as part of a commitment to invest more than £1.3bn by 2023, with plans to open 100 new stores over the next two years - Penwortham is one of its target locations.
Ciaran Aldridge, national property director at Aldi UK, said: “There are still too many people for whom shopping at Aldi isn’t a convenient option.
“We’re committed to changing that and opening nearly four new stores a week before Christmas clearly demonstrates our progress with this.”
Lidl, which has almost 900 stores in the UK, says it is also planning to spend the same amount on increasing its portfolio. It is looking for sites in the Preston area and is targeting 19 new stores across Lancashire by 2023.
It announced in June that Penwortham was also on its hit list of locations, along with Bamber Bridge and three in the city itself.
Lancashire has more than its fair share of discount supermarkets with the county emerging as a key battlefield for the "no frills" chains.
Aldi leads the way with 35 stores in the Red Rose county from Colne in the east to Blackpool in the west.
Preston currently has four Aldi stores, with a further seven on the Fylde Coast. Blackburn has three and Burnley two. Chorley, Leyland, Buckshaw Village, Bamber Bridge and Longridge all have one apiece.
Lidl has 20 across the county, with three in Preston and six on the Fylde.
B&M now have four stores in Preston - on the Docks, in Ringway, Ribbleton Lane and Fulwood Central - and a total of 18 across Lancashire.
Home Bargains boasts 16 stores in the county, including two in Preston - Deepdale Road and Market Place - and one in Leyland.
And with the likes of Iceland, with more than 20 shops, Farmfoods with 10 and others like Heron, Oops! and Mere, shoppers have more than 120 discount stores to buy from - 17 of them in Preston alone.