Aldi UK's premium products drive record Christmas

LONDON (Reuters) - The British arm of German discount supermarket group Aldi said on Monday its sales rose 10.6% year-on-year in the four weeks to Dec. 24, with a spike in demand for premium products helping deliver a record Christmas performance.

FILE PHOTO: Abdelaziz Abdou, a Deliveroo delivery rider, poses with a bag of Aldi groceries, as discount supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl look poised to accelerate their push into home delivery to satisfy burgeoning demand for online grocery shopping in a shift expected to endure beyond the coronavirus crisis, London, Britain, June 17, 2020. Picture taken June 17. REUTERS/Toby Melville

All UK supermarket groups benefited in the run-up to Christmas from unprecedented demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by a large part of the population working from home and restrictions on cafe, pub and restaurant openings.

Supermarkets also had more mouths to feed, with many of the five million or so Britons who normally travel abroad for Christmas staying in the UK.

Aldi, Britain’s fifth largest supermarket group with an 8% market share, said its premium “Specially Selected” range performed well, while it also saw strong demand for beers, wines and spirits, selling 4.5 million bottles of champagne, sparkling wine and prosecco.

The group highlighted particularly strong growth in its online wine and “Specialbuy” offering, with sales in December up 75% on the previous year.

“We had a record Christmas with unprecedented demand for our award-winning products as customers pushed the boat out more than ever before,” said CEO Giles Hurley.

The pandemic has prompted Aldi to accelerate its push into home delivery so it can benefit from a jump in demand that is expected to last.

But unlike Britain’s other major supermarket groups it is continuing to open new stores. It currently has over 900 and plans to open on average a new store every week over the coming years as it targets 1,200 stores by 2025.

Aldi UK also plans to spend an additional 3.5 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) a year with British suppliers by 2025 as part of its expansion plans.

($1 = 0.7357 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter