Lidl Introduces Kick Start Supplier Development Program For Small- and Medium-Sized Suppliers

Wed. March 28th, 2018
- by Robert Schaulis     

IRELAND and NORTHERN IRELAND - As Whole Foods—erstwhile the model for a small supplier-friendly retailer—makes strides to consolidate its supply chain without losing vendors’ good faith, Lidl appears to be pursuing the opposite tack—courting more small vendors to maximize their product assortment’s appeal. The discount retailer has introduced a new pilot program geared to help small- and middle-sized vendors “kick start” their companies’ development and stock items in the retailer’s 190 stores throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The program—Lidl’s Kick Start Supplier Development Programme—was trialed last year in the Republic of Ireland with just over 50 suppliers.

Lima Casey, Commercial Director, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland"The response to last year’s program was nothing short of phenomenal,” Lima Casey, Commercial Director for Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, told The Irish Times. “Over 450 different products were entered, ranging from artisan chocolate chip and honeycomb sausages to gourmet marshmallows to premium granola. We want to build on that success finding up to 80 new products for this year’s promotion."

The program, according to The Irish Times, is designed to support small vendors in their efforts to grow their brand and bolster their supply network. The program currently represents a nearly £180,000 (roughly $253,400 USD) investment by Lidl and includes a series of business development classes held by Lidl panelists and industry experts aimed at covering topics such as quality control, packaging, marketing, and brand building.

Lidl storefront

Could the discount retailer apply this model to its stateside stores and capitalize on unique merchandizing opportunities as other vendors consolidate suppliers? Last week, Albertsons introduced a similar program, perhaps making overtures to vendors irked by Amazon and Whole Foods’ recent policy changes.

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Lidl Ireland