The Times reports that the Lidl stores in Santa Venera, Luqa and San Gwann open to the public today. Fruit and veg will be imported, as will the meat so it’s a bit of a “foreign” store for most intents and purposes. A bit like Delhaize in Luxembourg – proudly selling Belgian products for Luxembourgers with a finer palate. I also read that Lidl will be charging for plastic bags – about time. They should have the one euro reusable tote bag by now, I find them very useful and although at any given time I have over 30 such bags they never cease to be of good use – whether it is to pack old clothes or to carry stuff to Metz when we visit the in-laws.
Lidl is also present in Luxembourg. I am not too impressed by their fare but I hear that their equivalent in Germany is quite popular. But shopping at supermarkets is a culture of its own. Auchan is a French way of shopping for example. Cactus (also Belle Etoile) is tailor made for Luxembourg tastes and plates. Delhaize just rocks (and it’s Belgian).
One negative note was the Lidl comment on the Safi controversy. It distanced itself from the planning problems involved by saying that it was only the franchise and was not involved in the planning applications. Weak. Very weak. When one considers the power a franchisor has over the purchasor of a franchise when stipulating conditions – this can go down to location, number of required customers or sales per year etc – Lidl’s excuse is as poor as it gets. But then again Lidl is not very good at public relations. It has recently been involved in a scandal in Germany for having spied on its employees in a horrible invasion of privacy case. Some European Unions also point out faults in Lidl’s (and Aldi’s) lack of social responsibility policy. Lidl models itself on two big discount chains – Aldi (German) and Walmart (American) – the drive to cheapness (or the politically correct affordability) might mean cutting corners on other issues. No wonder Safi is not their problem.
Lidl may be the right kind of international chain for Malta’s size. It is used to cater for the local with a flurry of mini-supermarkets outside small to medium sized villages. Selling cheap and low might attract the “tal-lira” consumers like droves – especially on discount Mondays and Thursdays. On the other hand if they continue to ignore the growing sensitivity on envrionmental issues they risk missing being the next gold jar at the end of the Maltese trend rainbow.