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Aldi announces it will start to sell online from next spring

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Aldi this week said it would sell via ecommerce from next spring.

The discount supermarket said it would first launch the sale of wine by the case, and follow that with sales of non-food items. Deliveries will be made to the home or can be collected from third-party locations.

The news came as Aldi reported sales of £6.9bn in the year to December 31, up by 31% on the £5.3bn reported the previous year. But operating profits fell to £260.3m from £271.4m following investment in staffing and in cutting prices.

“Our launch online is another exciting chapter in our story,” Aldi UK and Ireland chief executive Matthew Barnes told City AM. “This will enable us to introduce the Aldi brand and some of our best-selling, best-quality and best-value products to thousands more customers across the UK.”

Aldi currently sells from 598 UK stores and plans to launch a further 65 new ones this year.

Catherine Shuttleworth, chief executive of retail and shopper marketing agency Savvy, the news hadn’t been expected but was a shrewd move.

“First of all it gives the retailer national coverage resulting in access to underserved regions and the ability to introduce the brand to new shoppers. Secondly, the retailer is wise to start with wine and non-food – categories which will be less margin dilutive than a full grocery home delivery service.

“It’s also worth mentioning that wine has served an effective category to draw in new, particularly lucrative more affluent shoppers, to try their stores. Its eclectic range of non-food products has been a staple footfall driver for Aldi for many years, and we believe it can attract online traffic too. Finally, at a practical level, both wine and non-food can be run independently from its existing core supply chain. This will minimise complexity and prevent potential distractions from a core business which still has substantial scope for further growth.

“This is Aldi’s time. The retailer continues to demonstrate an instinctive connection with the mood of the nation and is ideally positioned to serve the changing UK shopper. Its move online, we believe, is another reason why the retailer will continue to outpace the market over the next five to 10 years.”

Julie Palmer, partner at business recovery consultancy Begbies Traynor, said Aldi’s results were disappointing and reflected the ongoing supermarket price war. But, she said, the new online sales channels would add another string to its bow “that will be a major worry to the likes of Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, who have so far been leading the way when it comes to home delivery.”

She added: “But with almost half of British grocery shoppers now visiting Aldi or Lidl every month, the public still clearly loves the discounters’ limited but growing choice of products, which now include more fresh food and upmarket ranges, and their unrivalled value for money solution to the weekly shop.”

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