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Aldi eyes online expansion as shopping habits shift

Aldi shopper in mask

Aldi is expanding its portfolio (pic: Terry Murden)

Aldi is following rival supermarket chains by building its online ordering offer in response to changes forced on shoppers by the pandemic.

The chain is trialling a number of new concepts, including a Deliveroo rapid delivery service and a click and collect service, already operated by rivals such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Aldi UK chief executive Giles Hurley acknowledges that the pandemic has impacted on consumer trends.

“The business performance has been very, very solid… but we also recognise customer habits are changing and that we need to evolve our business to meet the new demands and we’re actively doing that,” he said.

He now wants to “redefine discount retailing” and click and collect will be part of that, with a trial being operated by 15 stores.

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Despite the company’s rapid growth which saw a 49% rise in pre-tax profits last year, its smaller store format has seen it miss out on some the extra spending during the pandemic, says Fraser McKevitt, Head of Retail and Consumer Insight at consumer analysts Kantar.

“Aldi has still seen strong growth, they’re still selling 10% more than they did last year, but for the first time they’ve grown behind the market,” he says.

Aldi’s Giles Hurley says most (85%) of shoppers still shop in-store and alongside the online offer Aldi remains committed to a £1.3 billion expansion.

It will see it open 100 further stores over the next two years – adding to the current 894 – creating another 4,000 jobs in 2021 and taking total employees across the UK to 36,000.

Aldi currently has 92 stores across Scotland stocking more than 450 products from its network of more than 90 Scottish suppliers. 

It announced in January that it was opening six more stores across Scotland taking the total number of staff employed north of the border to more than 3,000 by the end of 2020, making it one of the country’s biggest employers. 

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The new stores still to open this year are in Commercial Street, Edinburgh; Houstoun Park, Livingston; Rigg Street in Stewarton and Gallowgate in Parkhead. 

It has also declared a commitment to Scottish producers and in April opened a £22 million freezer and chill facility in Bathgate.

The new warehousing facility will provide an extra 17,000mof space and has increased the number of Scottish products available in its stores to 500 over the next two years. 

Sainsbury’s boosts online plans

Sainsbury’s plans to expand its weekly online grocery delivery orders by October to 700,000, which would represent a doubling of its eCommerce capacity compared with pre-pandemic levels.

To meet this target, which covers both home delivery and click & collect, the supermarket is introducing a range of measures, including earlier and later deliveries.

Sainsbury’s has also added almost 200 click & collect locations and said that over the coming months there will be nearly 1,000 extra grocery delivery vans on the road compared with last year.

Asda preferred bidders

Walmart has chosen buyout firm TDR Capital and the billionaire brothers who founded the EG petrol station business as joint preferred bidders to buy Asda, the Financial Times reported.

The US retailer, which has owned Asda since 1999, decided to go into advanced talks with TDR and the Issa brothers at the weekend and a deal could be struck this week, the FT said. 

Apollo was the other potential bidder after Lone Star Capital pulled out last week.



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