Aldi gets serious about bella Italia
One real estate developer tells us that Aldi is already searching for another DC of around 60,000m² to the south of Milan. Luigi Rubinelli, managing editor of RetailWatch, believes this could be in the vicinity of Piacenza. He also says that Aldi has just signed the lease on a first store in Merano.
True to form, Hofer, Aldi South's Austrian subsidiary responsible for group expansion in bella Italia, remains tight-lipped. This gives free rein to speculation on how big the company wants to become south of the Alps. So what have we been able to piece together for our readers so far?
The local press claims that the site in Oppeano includes an adjacent store. This is unusual, although not entirely unknown here in Germany. But claims that the plot totals 375,000m² have caused astonishment. Perhaps we lack imagination, but this hardly seems credible.
The cost for Aldi, touted as low as €1.3m in parts of the Italian press, looks exceedingly low. The specialists we consulted pointed out that a normal grade A, ten-metre-high warehouse with a surface weight capacity of 5 tons/m² and one ramp door per 800m² to 1,000m² of storage space would cost €350 to €400/m² to build, excluding the purchase price of the land.
The Italian media are currently working on the basis that Aldi will open 20 outlets by the end of this year in Trento, Bolzano, Verona, Rovigo and Treviso. This sounds feasible if the discounter starts building by summer.
A glance at the website of Aldi S.r.l. would indicate far more ambitious plans for Italy than just the north-east of the country, i.e., the regions Trentino-South Tyrol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Venetia. Aldi is clearly also looking for sites able to house stores with at least 1,000m² of selling space in the north-west (Valle d'Aosta, Piedmont and Liguria) as well as in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.
The huge game of catch-up that Aldi will be obliged to play in Italy has led to press speculation that it might decide to kick-start entry via an acquisition. This is not really in Aldi's DNA, but it has made the occasional acquisition in the past, so the eventuality cannot be excluded entirely.
The takeover candidates touted in the local media include supermarket operator Migross (no connection with Swiss retail giant Migros), local discounters TuoDì, Dpiù, MD and iN's, as well as Penny Market.
Whatever Aldi's plans might be, the long-delayed entry of Germany's most profitable discounter into Italy will shake up retailing throughout the country. We will obviously do our very best to keep you informed about their progress. Doubtless much will be speculation, but, who knows, maybe one day Aldi will tire of our guessing games and give us a call. We believe they have our number...
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