Aldi goes British
Aldi UK top brass: Matthew Barnes, Tony Baines and Roman Heini
The German discounter has beaten local giants Tesco and J. Sainsbury to win "The Grocer of the Year Award".
At all events it is illuminating to see members of its secretive management in bow-tie at London's historic Guildhall — without turned-up collars and dark glasses.
The annual prize awarded by The Grocer is nothing less than a knighthood for the Aldi Süd subsidiary which has been growing far faster than the overall market over the last two years.
According to market researchers Kantar, annual sales growth has averaged 30 per cent throughout 2013. Aldi's 500-odd stores now have a 3.6 per cent share of the UK grocery market outpacing rival Lidl (3 per cent).
Here in Old Germany, one is a little surprised, however, at the explanations behind the decision of the judges.
No longer a discounter?
They seem to feel that Aldi is "no longer a discounter" and once sold food that was "as poor quality as it was cheap" with general merchandise accounting for "a huge percentage of sales"!
Correction for our Anglo-Saxon friends: Aldi may have subtly softened its hard discount image into a broader appeal that is successfully striking a growing chord with middle-class and aspiring-middle-class Britain, but it is still a discounter and has always been a stickler for quality.
Admittedly, my father once loved a power drill he bought on special offer from a local Aldi so much that he could only be restrained with difficulty from taking it to bed with him, but when was GM ever so dominant?
So the Brits have learned to love German discount, but have they also understood it?
Alles very British
Let us not be churlish, however. The prize was a tremendous honour for Aldi and they clearly intend to return the compliment. Back home Aldi Süd has just launched a new promotion for its "Taste of British Isles" range.
Under the slogan "Alles Very British", it markets such venerable products as fish & chips, Irish rump steak, baked beans, toffee, spreads, Scottish shortbread fingers, English tea and wine gums.
Clearly, what has never succeeded in politics (a trans-Channel love affair between Germans & Brits) is quietly being achieved by Aldi.
Related article in German: By Mike Dawson in Lebensmittel Zeitung, no. 26, 28.06.2013
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