Aldi UK boss Giles Hurley believes the grocer has “significant” potential to grow its burgeoning click-and-collect proposition as it expands its online presence.

The discounter launched a pilot of the service from its Allendale Road supermarket in Loughborough last week, allowing shoppers to place grocery orders online and pick them up in-store for £3.99.  

It marked the first time Aldi had made its full grocery proposition available online, having previously only sold a limited range of food products digitally through a partnership with Deliveroo

Hurley hailed the launch of click and collect as one of the discounter’s “most significant” strategic steps since it launched in the UK 30 years ago and said it was already planning to expand the trial to more stores. 

Speaking after the grocer unveiled a 49% jump in pre-tax profit to £271.5m in the year to December 31, 2019, Hurley said: “The potential of click and collect for Aldi is significant.  

“The speed at which we scale this is dependent on customer feedback. We launched in one store last week, we are listening very carefully to feedback from customers, and at the moment it is overwhelmingly positive, which is very exciting.

“But we also need to make sure the click and collect model that we adopt and rollout fits with our low-cost operation. That’s absolutely critical to ensure that we can continue to offer the lowest prices for groceries in Britain.

“Over the coming days, we will make a further announcement about scaling up to 15 stores so that we can garner more information and undertake a more rigorous trial. After that, we’ll have to wait and see.”   

Aldi’s click and collect launch comes ahead of the crucial golden quarter period, which could be even more important for retailers this year after a torrid 2020. 

The UK tumbled into recession earlier this year following the outbreak of coronavirus and the fallout of the pandemic has left millions of workers being propped up by the government’s furlough scheme or facing redundancy.

It has left retailers uncertain as to how consumers will spend Christmas, particularly if the government’s ‘rule of six’ restrictions on social gatherings remain in place during December.  

But Hurley believes grocers could benefit from consumers having multiple Christmas meals in order to see different groups of friends and family over the festive season.   

When asked how he expected the golden quarter to play out, Hurley said: “It’s really difficult to call, there are a number of competing dynamics. It’s likely that very few people will travel away this year, so that should be good for almost every aspect of the market – more British consumers staying at home supporting the British economy.

“Equally, the rule of six does inevitably curtail traditional family gatherings and maybe that means you get the joy of having two Christmas meals.

“I am really confident that British consumers will celebrate irrespectively. Christmas is a hugely important part of the calendar here, more so I would say than in many other countries. It’s a centrepiece to the year, it’s something everyone looks forward to – and when you come to Aldi, you can still enjoy luxury, premium and you get it at a discount.

“You don’t have to in any way scrimp and save, or in any way have a secondary Christmas, and I think that’s something that will play out this year.”