August 23 2014 Latest news:
Discount supermarket Aldi is set for a huge expansion in Kent and creating up to 500 new jobs as cash-conscious shoppers pour through its doors, it revealed.
The expansion - due to happen over the next few years - comes at a time when the credit squeeze is tightening purse-strings and more shoppers turn to discount outlets such as Aldi, Netto and Lidl.
The German-owned firm said its £100 million expansion plan for the county will add between 80 and 100 jobs a year with key developments.
In a statement to KOS Media it said it already has ten stores in the Kent region, and has plans to open stores in Strood and Maidstone in the next two years as well as a £40 million £ depot on the Isle of Sheppey. Graham Hetherington, managing director for London and the South East, said: 'We have big plans for expansion in Kent as we see it as key for our development programme in the South-East. 'In addition to the planned stores, we are also looking to expand in areas like Ashford and Whitstable and in total we'll be looking at investing around £100m into the region.
'As a direct result of the credit crunch, we're seeing sales up 15 per cent at many of the Kent stores as we attract around a million more customers through the door.
'We're currently seeing the biggest shift in customers away from the Big 4 supermarkets in 20 years as more and more customers are making savings on their groceries by shopping at Aldi.
'Already, we had to extend stores in Gillingham, Swanley, Sittingbourne, Dover and Hythe to allow for the higher sales.'