Supermarket Lidl will next year increase wages for thousands of its British staff by 2.4 percent, meaning that a quarter of supermarket’s workforce will benefit from  an hourly rate above that of the government-mandated National Living Wage.

The adoption of the new Living Wage Foundation rate will boost pay for 5,500 of its workers, making it the first supermarket in Britain to do so this year.

The pay rise will put the employees on a minimum of £8.45 an hour, or £9.75 an hour in London. The workers in England, Scotland and Wales will get the pay rise from 1 March next year, making them some of the best paid retail staff, although they do not receive paid breaks or extra pay for Sundays.

The announcement comes just a day after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the mandatory national living wage rate will increase to £7.50 an hour at the beginning of April next year in the Autumn Statement.

Lidl said that offering the living wage rate had led to a 20 per cent increase in job applications over the last 12 months. The company is now aiming to recruit over 630 people for permanent positions before Christmas.

Nan Gibson, Lidl UK HR board director said:

“We recognise the contribution of each and every colleague within the business and we feel it’s important to celebrate our achievements together. So it fills me with pride that our colleagues are among the best paid in the supermarket sectorand it’s absolutely deserved for the commitment and value they bring to the company every day.”

Katherine Chapman, director of the LWF said:

“Lidl’s commitment to pay their staff the new real living wage rates is fantastic news and an acknowledgment of what we have always believed and advocated – that it is possible to pay the real living wage if you are a supermarket in the UK.

“This will also reassure workers that their wages will rise in line with the cost of living every year,”