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Planned Lidl in Gozo ‘won’t impact’ shops

Lidl is proposing to build a supermarket in Xewkija.

Lidl is proposing to build a supermarket in Xewkija.

The proposed Lidl store in Xewkija will have “no undue impact” on the shops and stores in Victoria centre, according to a retail impact assessment report.

The report, requested by a planning board, said there was no undue impact on the convenience trading position of existing convenience floor space in the town.

“In reaching this conclusion, we are mindful that the centre has experienced significant recent investment, has a low vacancy rate, and benefits from high footfall,” the report said.

A decision on the application, filed by the German supermarket chain, is expected next week against a recommendation to approve. Lidl, which already has five supermarkets in Malta, has earmarked a 4,800 square metre site for development.

Of this, 70 per cent falls within the development limits of the Xewkija Industrial Estate, while a remaining triangular area is outside the development zone.

The supermarket structure will take up around 50 per cent of the area while the scheduled part will have “soft landscaping” through the planting of scattered trees.

The majority of the floor space, 70 per cent, will be dedicated to convenience goods, which include food, drinks and tobacco, amounting to 706 square metres and 30 per cent or 302 square metres for items such as books, clothing, hardware and toiletries.

The report said the project, creating 20 jobs, would satisfy the need for a large discount supermarket in Gozo and would “add to the diversity and range of food shopping provision on the island”.

The maximum travel distance to the store from any direction is around seven kilometres – a comfortable driving distance, according to the report.

It is estimated the store would have a turnover of €5.82 million a year at 2015.

Even so, the primary town centre “is expected to experience a 4.8 per cent increase in trade over the period to 2015, while stores outside the centre will experience an increase in trade of 5.3 per cent,” the report said.

Gozitans from Victoria and its surrounding villages were likely to use Lidl for a combination of main food shopping – their weekly shopping trip – and top-up shopping.

Smaller trips were likely to take place in conjunction with trips to Victoria and elsewhere for goods such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

With shops with a high turnover, such as those in Victoria, “it is highly unlikely that this level of trade diversion would have any discernible impact on any one store or on the town centre as a whole”.

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