Lidl to open store in Riga

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German retail chain Lidl is planning to open a store in Riga's Purvciems neighborhood. Locals dislike the proposal as trees would have to be cut down, while industry experts say it will benefit the retail market, reported LTV7 on July 27.

"The market is always changing and growing, it's always on the move. For example, one market participant, Prisma, left, and another will take its place. The customer will be the winner no matter what as prices will go down in supermarkets. Lidl will arrive with lower prices. It's a very strong chain that can ensure low prices. Lithuania's example shows that the opening of a Lidl store can cause quite a stir," said Jānis Tomels, representative of the Latvian Traders Association.

Latvia's competition watchdog seems to share this view. "If a new, powerful player appears in Latvia's retail trade, it's only for the better. Competition will increase, and strong competition is always in the consumer's interests. It's difficult to make any conclusion about the network's strategy, but judging from the experience of other countries we can expect pressure on the pricing," said Skaidrīte Ābrama, head of the Competition Council.

Meanwhile Henriks Danusēvičs, president of the Latvian Traders Association thinks that prices will go down only in the short term.

"The policy that Lidl mostly use testifies that that prices will be low only in the early stages but are likely to increase afterwards. And as they often make a joint European purchase of merchandise, cooperation with local companies will decrease steeply and that will lead to the government receiving less money," he told LTV7.

Locals at Purvciems, the planned location of the first Lidl store, are against having the store there. A total 29 trees would have to be cut down to build it.

"It's a wonderful green area, so many trees! Why should you cut them down, why build these gray barns that soon collapse, like Maxima and Prisma? It's no use. Well if they'd build a movie theater here for cultural development... People have more on their mind than eating and buying clothes," said local Natālija.

"All the locals are against building the magazine," said passerby Egils. "There are trees standing here that have been growing for years. In their place they are planning on building a massive parking space. I am all for it - let them build it, but in a place where it would not interfere with people's right to fresh air."

Lidl is the fifth largest retail chain in the world by number of magazines. Lidl stores can be found in all EU countries except Latvia and Estonia. 

It tried to enter Latvia in the early 2000s and even bought some land in Riga, however it pulled out as the economic downturn started.

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