Hard discounter aims to grab 12% of UK grocery market

Hard discounter Aldi aims to grab a 12 per cent share of Britain’s grocery market - a bigger proportion than Morrisons - as it embarks on an aggressive expansion drive.

The company plans to open up to 250 UK and Ireland stores over the next four to five years and ultimately sees potential for 1,500.

Aldi UK and Ireland group managing director Paul Foley said: ‘The bigger the business gets, the faster you can grow.’

If the sales volumes achieved by Aldi’s existing 401 shops were matched, a store count of 1,500 would deliver a 12 per cent market share. Aldi had a 2.6 per cent share for the 12 weeks to June 17 and Morrisons had 11.2 per cent, according to TNS Worldpanel.

Foley said 1,500 stores was a ‘realistic’ target, but conceded it might take many years to reach. He added that recruiting and training staff is a bigger barrier to Aldi’s growth than obtaining planning permissions.

Aldi is only interested in about five of troubled discounter Kwik Save’s stores. ‘We took 26 Kwik Save stores two years ago and either knocked them down or converted them,’ said Foley.

The retailer will also increase the number of its Specially Selected premium lines, including coffee and cakes, which are its fastest-growing products, and has added 25 organic product lines in the past six months. ‘Premium is a significant feature of our ranges,’ Foley added.

Separately, Foley said that Aldi’s first UK city centre branch, which opened in Manchester last year, was performing ‘better than expectations’.