Aldi, the German hard discount retailer which has thrown a punch to the established UK grocers in recent years, is continuing to pile on the pressure with its ambitious expansion plans.

Its strong value proposition is underpinned by tight control of all aspects of its operations, limited product range and no-frills experience, resulting in quality products at low prices.

As such, its technology needs are focused primarily on efficiency and customer service, although the retailer has had a limited ecommerce venture in the UK since the beginning of 2016. Initially focused on selling wine by the case, the discounter’s eclectic range of non-food ‘Specialbuys’ has subsequently been added to the online offer.

The global business started life in 1946 when brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht took control of their mother’s grocery store in the German town of Essen. By the 1960s, the business had developed into a network of more than 300 stores across Germany. At this point, the prosperous family business was divided into two independent companies – Aldi Süd to service the South under the direction of Karl, and Aldi Nord being run by Theo and covering the North.

Aldi’s empire now extends to some 12,030 stores across 20 countries. Some 4,200 of its stores are in its native Germany and it has more than 925 shops throughout the British Isles.

The UK has been a key growth market for Aldi in recent years. It is Britain’s leading hard discount retailer, but has proved increasingly attractive to customers across the socio-economic spectrum as it has benefited from the polarisation of the UK grocery market.

Aldi’s credibility in the UK was underlined in January 2017 when Kantar Worldpanel data showed it had overtaken the Co-op for the first time to become the country’s fifth largest food retailer.

Innovation rating: 2

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