The traditional grocery store model is seems to be out the door in the UK. This week German discount supermarket, Lindl, will offer “high-end, on-trend” mainstream fashion apparel. Yes, that means when getting milk at your local Lindl store, you can also pick up a leather-trimmed jacket for £14.99. The clothing line is Lidl’s latest effort to draw in new shoppers as it targets avenues of expansion in Britain.
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After successfully challenging the big supermarket chains on food, the retailer will sell its new womenswear range from next Monday – including a bargain-priced leather-trimmed jacket for £14.99. Shoppers will be able to pick up stretch jeans for £6.99, ankle boots for £9.99 and shirts for £5.99 with their groceries. A menswear fashion collection will follow in November.
Lidl’s move into what it describes as “high-end, on-trend” mainstream fashion is a contrast to its previous clothing launches, which focused on cheap but basic garments such as underwear, vests and childrenswear. The new fashion range will be sold in the same way as all its non-food items: while stocks last.
The clothing line is Lidl’s latest effort to draw in new shoppers as it targets avenues of expansion in Britain. The chain has already drawn in a wider demographic by stocking more fresh British meat and vegetables and freshly baked breads, offering luxury foods such as lobster at Christmas and introducing a range of fine wines. A combination of the newer items and low prices is winning over shoppers from traditional supermarket chains such as Tesco and Morrisons and even Waitrose.
The unbranded clothing range – manufactured in China and Bangladesh – will compete head-on with Asda’s hugely successful George brand, Tesco’s F&F and Sainsbury’s Tu, as well as discount clothing specialist Primark.
Josie Stone, non-food buying manager at Lidl UK, said: “This is the first time ever that we’ve done such a high-end fashion promotion and we’re hugely excited about launching these lines on 25 August. Not only are these jackets bang on trend for this season but they’re also £15 a pop, which is unbeatable value for such high quality . So we’d advise customers to be quick getting down to stores on the 25th because they’re likely to be snapped up very quickly.”
She said the highlight of the collection was the “leather” jackets – two in faux leather and a biker-style design with leather piping – which will go on sale at £14.99 each, cheaper than the faux-leather jackets on sale at the major supermarkets or even low-price specialist Primark. Also in the collection are skinny cut, cotton jeans made priced at £6.99, denim shirts in a light or dark wash and a chiffon shirt all for £5.99 each. Heeled ankle boots are available for £9.99 a pair.
Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said fashion was not the obvious choice for Lidl as the store will find it difficult to display a range of sizes, though the move into mainstream fashion will draw shoppers. He said: “If it’s cheap enough, then I’m sure it will sell quickly as throwaway fashion and £7 jeans should certainly fit the bill.”
Lidl and its rival Aldi sell small amounts of clothing but are growing rapidly in Britain as they take on the big supermarkets. According to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel, Lidl increased sales by 19.5% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to July 20. Its market share of grocery spending now stands at a record 3.6%, compared to 3.1% a year ago.
Anusha Couttigane, fashion retail analyst with Conlumino, said: “At the major grocers, fashion represents between 20% and 30% of the non-food mix. Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl currently have a healthy mix of health and beauty products. But if Lidl expects to see the kind of results that the likes of Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury are seeing in their fashion propositions, the proportion of space and focus in terms of strategy will have to be quite considerable over the coming years. Even then, it will not necessarily have the presence value-level fashion competitors have online or even on the high street. While it’s too early to say whether Lidl’s clothing offer will be a win in the style stakes, naysayers should probably exhibit caution. No one expected it to win wine awards either.”
But Richard Perks, director of retail research at market research group Mintel, cautioned: “This is taking what they are doing already and moving it on a step. This is about value for money and is about offering some excitement to the opportunistic shopper with a relatively small range that will probably sell very quickly.”Lidl, owned by the Schwarz Group, has ambitious plans for the UK. UK managing director Ronny Gottschlich has said grocery shopping in the country is entering a “new era” and pledged to grow Lidl from 600 stores to as many as 1,500. The chain now attracts up to 5 million shoppers a week and Gottschlich says new customers quickly become converts. He plans to open up to 40 new outlets a year – up from 12 last year – and believes that as the German chain makes its efforts to “become more British”, shoppers will stick with Lidl even as the economy improves.
• This article was amended on 22 August 2014 because an earlier version referred to Lidl’s fashion range being sold “until stocks last”. This has been corrected to say “while stocks last”.