Norway's largest food company Nortura has hailed Lidl's exit from the country as a "victory" for the local food industry.

Jon Eskedal, a Nortura director, told just-food that Lidl's exit was a sign of how difficult it is to break into Norway's retail sector.

"The fact that Lidl are quitting Norway is a sure sign that it's not easy to break through with foreign brands," Eskedal said. "Their withdrawal is a victory for Norwegian brands and Norwegian food."

The exit of Lidl has been seen by retail analysts as an embarrassing retreat for the German budget chain and an acknowledgement that its policy of importing low-cost goods into Norway has failed.

Lidl has sold its 50 stores to the country's dominant domestic retail player Rema 1000. The two companies agreed not to disclose the sale price, which includes Lidl's Oslo headquarters and distribution depots as well as the stores, which will be rebranded as Rema 1000.

"The Norwegian consumer goods branch is a world leader. We have the lowest margins in Europe because competition's so hard. That's why I think they've pulled out of Norway," Rema chief executive Ole Robert Reitan told just-food. He said the 600 Lidl jobs in Norway were safe for now.

Reitan said all Lidl's supply contracts with non-Norwegian suppliers would be cancelled. Lidl set up in Norway over three years ago but has never been able to grab more than 2% of the market,