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Supermarket chain Lidl has hit a milestone of 700 UK stores after it opened five new stores in one day.

Although the chain is dwarfed by Tesco and Sainsbury, whose stores number thousands, it and close rival Aldi are now third and fourth biggest in terms of number of UK stores.

Lidl’s new stores are in Edinburgh, Stockton, Hull, Polegate in East Sussex and Rosehill, in south London. Lidl’s first supermarket in the UK opened in 1994.

The discounter is opening 19 new shops in the first two months of 2018, creating more than 700 new jobs.

The German-owned company plans to open more than 50 new outlets this year.

It now has a 5% share of the market and employs more than 22,000 people.

Rival Aldi has more than 750 stores, giving it a 6.9% share of the market, and has more than 30,000 staff.

It plans to open 70 new stores this year and says it will have more than 1,000 by 2022.

Supermarkets, ranked according to number of stores:

  • Tesco: 2,653
  • Sainsbury’s: 1,412
  • Aldi: 750
  • Lidl: 700
  • Asda: 646
  • Morrisons: 491
  • Waitrose: 353

Discounters such as Aldi and Lidl have shaken up the supermarket sector, putting huge competitive pressure on mainstream chains, including market leader Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

As a result, grocers have had to cut costs – and labour is one of their biggest costs.

Earlier this year, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s announced jobs cuts in stores as a result of cost-saving measures.

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