Monday 1 October 2012

Aldi poised to double UK stores, how they impact suppliers and shoppers

Aldi is planning to double the number of its UK stores to 1,000 over the next 10 years as cash-strapped middle class shoppers drove a fivefold increase in underlying profit to £102.9m last year. Having entered the UK in 1990, Aldi gradually responded to successive economic downturns by gradually expanding its UK base.

“We’ve seen a shift in the socio-demographics,” said joint MD Roman Heini. “Obviously we have kept the existing customers ... so we still have the C1, C2 and D customers but we certainly now also see more A and especially B customers in our existing stores and also in the stores we have opened this year so far.”

He believes Aldi is winning customers from “basically all other retailers”. Confirmed Aldi-watchers will have already seen this pattern develop in Germany and other countries. Examples of prices and deals here.
The win/lose pattern for suppliers was set 25 years ago...

Handling Aldi in 1985… 
Twenty five years ago, given the inevitability of UK entry, my advice to UK clients at the time was to add Aldi to the customer portfolio of an experienced NAM, two years in advance of entry, with a brief to keep the board informed of how the company and competition were dealing with Aldi in Germany and other countries.

As a result, they were then ready to deal with the first call from Aldi UK, with prices, terms and a recently discontinued version of their brand packaging for launch in Aldi branches. This did not endear them to their marketing colleagues, but it did allow them to make defensible moves with the new retail model.

Mis-handling Aldi, bigtime…
Meanwhile, another client ignored the advice and promptly slammed down the phone on the first Aldi call…It was almost ten minutes before they received a call from the head of their German affiliate, demanding to know why they had been so rude to the company’s biggest customer in Germany!

Moreover, to show that there WERE hard feelings, Aldi UK put notices in their shop windows saying that as xxx company had refused to supply them with products that could be offered at lower shelf prices, they were obliged to offer better than average discounts on the competing brand…..a signal to other suppliers not to underestimate the influence (and potential) of new retail models…!

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