Aldi is to create another 4,000 jobs with the opening of 100 new stores and a new online ordering service as part of a £1.3bn investment drive in the UK.
The new jobs are on top of 3,000 permanent roles the discount supermarket chain has created this year after grocery sales surged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Giles Hurley, the chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, said the group’s sales had grown by at least 10% since the beginning of this year, up from the 8% achieved in 2019, as he claimed shoppers had switched from major supermarkets such as Tesco.
“Small local supermarkets have often performed particularly well during the pandemic,” he said, adding that the economic difficulties facing British families meant they were likely to turn to discounters such as Aldi to save cash towards the end of the year. “Right now we have got everything stacked in our favour,” he said.
He said Britons would still want to celebrate Christmas despite the restrictions on gatherings to control the spread of the virus and may opt for two family dinners rather than one in order to see loved ones.
Despite Hurley’s upbeat outlook, market share figures indicate that Aldi’s major rivals such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have dramatically stepped up growth, marking a turnaround in behaviour as shoppers look for a one-stop shop for weekly supplies – either in one visit to a supermarket or by ordering online.
Aldi’s online sales of non-food and wine soared 70% this year, up from 40% growth in 2019, as more people switched to shopping from home during the coronavirus outbreak. However, analysts say Aldi is missing out because it does not offer a full grocery home delivery service.
Related: UK supermarkets urge shoppers not to panic over lockdown fears
With those changing shopping habits in mind, Aldi has begun testing “click and collect”, in which shoppers can order groceries online and pick them up at a store. The group launched the service last week in one store and will extend it to 14 more in the next few weeks.
Aldi is also conducting a trial for a rapid grocery delivery service with the courier firm Deliveroo in 20 stores.
Deliveroo has been hired by a number of grocery firms, including Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and the Co-op, to help with fast-track food deliveries as shoppers look for more ways to source groceries without leaving home.
Deliveroo said on Monday that it will have taken on 15,000 more drivers by the end of this year to help meet demand, having signed up 16 new grocery brands since March and 11,500 new restaurant partners.
The firm – whose couriers are all self-employed and so not guaranteed sick pay or the minimum wage – said it was on track to double its number of drivers in the UK to 50,000 during 2020.
Aldi, which is Britain’s fifth-largest grocer, with 894 stores and more than 36,000 staff, has previously said it wants a total of 1,200 stores in the UK by 2025.
Hurley said the majority of the German retailer’s £1.3bn of investment – which will be spent this year and next – would go into opening and upgrading stores. It has already opened 40 stores in the UK this year and wants to open more than 50 next year. It is also improving the look of more than 100 shops as well as expanding its warehouses and logistics services.
Hurley said: “With the UK’s economic outlook increasingly uncertain, families are more concerned about their grocery bills than ever. We’ve seen before that our customers need us most in times of financial hardship, which is why our commitment to remain Britain’s lowest-priced supermarket is more important than ever.”
Morrisons and Tesco have reintroduced limits on some essentials such as toilet roll and soap in recent days to discourage shoppers from stockpiling, as happened at the time of the Covid-19 lockdown in March. Aldi said on Monday that availability of products was good and it had no immediate plans to introduce limits, although this will be reviewed on a daily basis.
Announcing its UK expansion plans alongside its annual results, Aldi said it had won new customers, taking the total to more than 18 million last year. This helped boost sales in the UK and Ireland by 8.3% to £12.3bn in 2019, while the grocery market grew 1%. It made a pre-tax profit of £271.5m in 2019, up 49% from 2018 as it cut costs across the business.
Video: Aldi set to open new stores and expand Click and Collect service UK Wide (Wales Online)