Budget retail chain Lidl has announced it will open its stores in Latvia on Thursday, but has not provided any information on when they can be expected to open doors in Estonia, although the stores seem ready from the outside and the hiring process has finished.
German budget retail chain Lidl has completed eight stores in Estonia, but has not opened any of them yet. Walking past one, it seems as if the stores are operational - lights are on, shelves are stocked. But the doors are still closed.
The chain still does not provide any information on when the doors will be opened in Estonia. Even hired workers have no idea when stores are opened and they can get to work, although they are already getting paid.
"The hiring process has gone successfully. There are more than 200 dedicated employees working at Lidl Eesti OÜ at the moment, all making preparations to open stores. In the summer, we recruited shift managers who are all currently in training. All Lidl workers go through extensive training in Estonia or abroad," said Lidl Eesti spokesperson Katrin Seppel.
She added that Lidl is set to open multiple stores at once. She did not publish when that would happen, however.
"It is still too early to say when it will happen, but we will certainly keep the public up to date. We are currently focused on developing our retail chain in Estonia, involving construction, furnishing and applying for the necessary licenses and permits," Seppel added.
The major retail chain has stores to be opened in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu and Narva. The chain had permits for the store in Lasnamäe and Narva in the start of the year. A logistics center has been completed in Latvia, which will service stores in both Latvia and Estonia.
Disagreement over Lasnamäe store has been cleared
A possible reason for why the opening in Estonia may have been delayed has could be the long-lasting argument between the retailer and the city of Tallinn over a store constructed on Raadiku tänav in Lasnamäe. The city and Lidl signed a contract for a plot on Raadiku 11/11a in 2018, which obligated the company to develop public roads, as well as landscaping, outdoor lighting and storm drainage work. A year later, Lidl agreed to also transfer the road and lighting management to the city. The works were supposed to be completed by the license application period.
On March 5 this year, Lidl applied for a license, but since the roads had not been completed yet, the Tallinn urban environment and public works department deemed this a breach of contract and demanded for €9,400 in contractual penalties. The company finished the roads by the end of April, but did not agree with the fine and threatened the city with going to court.
In July, Tallinn City Government filed a suit against Lidl. The court process finished with a compromise on September 10, which orders the retail chain to pay the city €6,000 in fines.
On September 22, the city government gave out a new order, which sees Lidl hand over the lighting cable and roads to the city, who will then manage the roads and lighting with its own resources. Lidl must hand over the documentation within a month. The chain has 30 days to argue the order in administrative court.
Lidl has not commented on its disagreement with Tallinn city government.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste