He was sent to France as operations director for the south of the country in 2012, aged 30.
Running an area that included the sunny Côte d’Azur? The supermarket group gave him a seat on the board in France even though Scally couldn’t speak French when he arrived.
“They put me through an intensive language course in Paris, then I took over operations for about 550 stores,” he says.
Last September, he moved to assume control of Lidl in Ireland, replacing Brendan Proctor, who has moved on to head up Lidl in the US.
Lidl, along with its compatriot and rival German discounter Aldi, arrived in Ireland about 16 years ago and has since helped to turn the grocery sector’s economics upside down.
Rip-off Republic wasn’t yet a thing when Lidl first established itself here.
A strange thing happens to some men once we hit our mid-30s. The Westmeath farmer’s son has full responsibility for its 146 stores in this State and 36 outlets in Northern Ireland.
Whenever we meet a guy of our generation who is very senior in business or successful in life, we check his age. He manages more than 4,000 staff, he runs a business with annual sales of well over €1 billion, and he has already served almost four years on the board of of Lidl’s huge operation in France.
John Paul Scally is managing director and chairman of the board of directors of the supermarket chain Lidl in Ireland.
Yet Scally’s face is as fresh as the 39-cent fruit and vegetables in the Lidl store in Gorey, Wexford, where we meet.
“What age are you, JP, if you don’t mind me asking?
” Damn him to hell, anyway: Scally only recently turned 34.