How will Lidl's arrival affect the labor market in Latvia?

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German retailer Lidl, which has been promising to open stores in Latvia for a while, has started to actively recruit employees. The labor market situation impact as a result of this was discussed on Latvian Radio October 4.

Lidl, currently working in 32 countries of the world, could also start work in Latvia in the foreseeable future. The opening day of the stores is kept secret. But the company has set up a logistics center in Rīga, as well as commissioned ten buildings.

Two years of training have been completed by store and regional managers, but now more than 1,000 vacancies are open to assemble teams of shop and logistics staff.

“We already see that interest from potential employees is high, because we can offer higher wages in the sector and other additional benefits,” said Lidl spokeswoman Zane Neļķe.

Lidl is looking for employees in Rīga and eight regional cities, promising up to six euro hourly rates before tax, or 960 euro gross salary if working 160 hours a month.

However, Noris Krūzītis , executive director of the Latvian Food Traders Association, estimated that Lidl's promised benefits are already a reality here and there, therefore, too much turmoil in the labor market may not be expected at all. In addition, the COVID-19 crisis added to the ranks of potential workers.

“At the same time, it must be said that it is not easy to get employees. They are as many as they are. Major traders, such as Rimi, are already paying far more than average in the sector. It should be said that not only the salary determines whether and how many employees can be obtained,” Krūzītis said.

The Latvian Traders Association Chair Henriks Danusēvičs also does not foresee a major change in the labor market. However, he acknowledged that movement is expected and that some traders might not withstand the increase in competition.

“(..) Lidl may have a slightly better salary than elsewhere, but it must also be understood that discipline is much tougher there and that accounting is very scrupulous,” Danusēvičs said.

He said that with Lidl expanding, average wages in the sector will rise, but not much. Other market players have just increased their wages, but productivity does not catch up so quickly.

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