DISCOUNT supermarket Aldi is ploughing ?40m into Liverpool ? creating up to 200 new jobs.

The German store chain plans to open up to 10 more Liverpool stores over the next three to four years.

The chain already has six stores on Merseyside, including Smithdown Road, Prescot Road and the Thornton site which cost ?2.8m to build.

Dan Ronald, Aldi managing director for the north west of England, said Liverpool was one of the group?s strongest performing areas in the UK and more stores were planned.

He said: ?We have two sites definitely opening in Liverpool ? in Bootle and Old Swan.

?And we hope to add maybe eight or 10 sites in the next three to four years.?

Each store creates on average 20 new jobs rising to 25 when knock-on roles like drivers, supplies and selectors are included.

Mr Ronald said the group was already in talks to clinch new sites.

He said: ?We own a site in Norris Green. But we would look to put a store into any of the bustling centres in Liverpool and maybe one in the city centre.?

He revealed Aldi was unlikely to consider any Woolworth store sites about to come on the market after the store group?s administration.

He said Aldi tried to buy all its stores while most Woolworth sites were rented.

Mr Ronald added: ?Liverpool probably has the potential for about 15 Aldi stores.

?We have always done particularly well in Liverpool. It is one of our busiest areas in the country and has seen an increase in footfall of 30% more customers compared with a year ago, which fuels our desire to step up our development programme.?

The chain is renowned for offering discounts of up to 20% on some products compared with rivals.

But with the credit crunch hitting shoppers the discount market is beginning to attract new customers.

Recent figures estimate Aldi stores have seen about 3,000 new shoppers per month.

Mr Ronald said: ?It is not just credit crunch-driven, although there is no question that in the current tough times people are watching their pockets, but there is no doubt discounts are becoming a more attractive option.?

Liverpool Echo