DISCOUNT chain Lidl has announced plans to become Britain’s highest-paying supermarket as part of an investment programme that will include new stores in Bournemouth.

Entry level wages at the retailer will rise from a minimum of £9.50 an hour to a minimum of £10.10, rising to £11.40.

Lidl staff will be paid at least 60 pence an hour more than the National Living Wage for over-23s.

The chain says the move is part of a £1.3billion investment in Britain in 2021 and 2022, alongside a target of reaching 1,000 stores by the end of 2023

It is interested in securing more than 70 sites in “Southampton and the surrounding area”, which includes Bournemouth.

Christian Härtnagel, chief executive officer of Lidl GB, said: “At Lidl, our frontline colleagues are the backbone of our business. They have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months of the Covid-19 crisis and are integral to our future success.

“We have ambitious plans to grow our business across Great Britain, and to do that we need to ensure we attract and look after the best talent at every level of our business.

“This year we feel incredibly lucky to be in a position as a business to go even further by making this significant investment in our incredible workforce, which will make us the best paying supermarket in the UK.”

Nan Gibson, chief human resources officer with the company, said: “In 2015 we became the first supermarket in the UK to match the rates advocated by the Living Wage Foundation, and we are proud to have consistently increased wages every year since. There is no denying how hard our people work, more so than ever during recent times, and we’re delighted to be able to give our store and distribution centre colleagues the recognition they deserve and look forward to welcoming new colleagues to our teams in the months ahead.”

Staff received a £150 thank-you voucher last year and a £200 thank-you payment for front line workers earlier this year,

Benefits to staff include a 10 per cent discount, a pension scheme and 30 days of holiday.