FOUR New Forest towns are on the development hit-list of discount grocery chain Aldi, it has revealed.
Lymington, New Milton, Ringwood and Totton are being investigated by the German company for locations to open new stores. A fifth is targeted in Christchurch.
As reported in the A&T, Aldi has already tried to gain permission for an outlet off Caird Avenue in New Milton – opposite Tesco – but was refused permission by New Forest District Council.
It has promised to come back with new plans despite objections from local traders that it would drain custom from the town centre.
The five local locations are among 32 identified across Hampshire and Dorset amid a national expansion drive to grow from 880 stores now to having 1,200 open in the UK by 2025.
Currently the only Aldi store in the New Forest and Christchurch is at the Meteor Shopping Park in Somerford.
Its closest rival Lidl has five locally in New Milton, Christchurch, Ringwood, Hythe and Totton.
Lidl is also seeking permission for a second Christchurch outlet at Bailey Bridge Retail Park off Barrack Road to add to the one it already has in Somerford.
Ciaran Aldridge, national property director at Aldi UK, said: “Aldi is growing rapidly and we are welcoming around a million new customers into our stores every year.
“But there are also hundreds of towns across the UK where there is not an Aldi, meaning there are hundreds of thousands of people who can’t easily access the high quality, affordable food our customers love.
“We are willing to explore all opportunities, including developer-led schemes or existing retail units.”
Aldi is seeking freehold town-centre or edge-of-centre sites suitable for development. It says each site should be around 1.5 acres and able to accommodate a 20,000 sq ft store with around 100 parking spaces, ideally on a prominent main road and with good visibility and access.
Aldi is Britain’s fifth largest supermarket, with more than 34,000 employees.