Northern Ireland

Lidl could takeover Belfast InShops site

Image caption InShops closed its doors for the last time in June 2012

Discount supermarket chain Lidl may be about to open a branch in Belfast city centre after it applied for an off-sales licence for the Hi Park Centre.

The 30,000 sq ft centre on High Street was formerly occupied by InShops.

Lidl, which already has five neighbourhood shops in Belfast, has not commented.

Discount retailers have increased their market share in the UK and Ireland in recent years as recession-hit shoppers look for greater value.

In the Republic of Ireland, Lidl has a market share of about 6% while in the UK it is about 3%.

The company has been operating in Northern Ireland since 1999 and has 35 stores, as well as a distribution centre at Nutts Corner in Crumlin, County Antrim.

Last year the German-owned firm said it was planning to double the number of stores it had in the UK.

The Hi-Park Centre is owned by the NI Transport Holding Company.

The centre was previously leased by the French company Group Geraud who then sublet to a variety of small retailers under the InShops brand.

However, it did not renew its lease in 2012 and the entire InShops business, which had operated from 21 sites across the UK, was placed into liquidation earlier this year.

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