Aldi, Lidl sales shine in Britain in pre-Christmas trading - Kantar Worldpanel

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LONDON (Reuters) - German discounters Aldi [ALDIEI.UL] and Lidl have entered the key Christmas period in Britain with strong sales growth and market share gains from their bigger rivals in the latest 12 week period, according to industry data.

Market researcher Kantar Worldpanel said on Tuesday Aldi’s [ALDIEI.UL] sales rose 15.5 percent in the 12 weeks to Nov. 4, while Lidl’s were up 10.2 percent, taking their share of the UK grocery market up to 7.6 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.

Aldi’s market share growth of 0.9 percentage points was the highest year-on-year gain by any grocer in almost four years, Kantar Worldpanel said.

Unlike Britain's big four grocers - market leader Tesco TSCO.L, Sainsbury's SBRY.L, Asda WMT.N and Morrisons MRW.L - Aldi and Lidl are still opening new stores aggressively.

“Five years ago, just under half of British households were visiting one of the discount retailers at least once in a 12 week period. This now stands at almost two-thirds, which is reflected in their continued growth,” said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar Worldpanel’s head of retail and consumer insight.

Of Britain’s big four Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons lost share, while Asda’s was flat.

Sales at No. 3 player Asda, which in April agreed a 7.3 billion pounds ($9.4 billion) takeover by No. 2 Sainsbury’s, rose 2.6 percent. Tesco’s sales increased by 0.4 percent and sales were up 1.5 percent at Morrisons. Sainsbury’s was the laggard with a 0.6 percent sales fall.

Asda is scheduled to update on third quarter trading on Thursday.

Kantar Worldpanel said overall grocery sales in Britain increased 2.6 percent, while grocery inflation was 1.8 percent. Prices are rising fastest in markets such as cola, sparkling wine and butter.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Jane Merriman