Aldi promises bigger stores

Construction to start soon in Louth

Updated: 

Aldi supermarket Aldi grocery store shopping

Aldi is building its biggest-ever store in the UK, and says it'll be the first of many the same size, making them less of a squeeze for customers.

The store, in Louth, Lincolnshire, will be an impressive 19,000 square feet, with a sales area of 13,498 square feet. That's 2,500 square feet bigger than most of its current stores. There will be parking for more than 100 cars.

The site's now being cleared, and building work is expected to start in April, with the store scheduled to open in October. It's expected to employ as many as 50 people.

"This will be the new standard size for all future Aldi UK stores," says Aldi's property director for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Mark Taylor.

"Previously the average size of our stores was 16,500 square feet, but this new larger size will enable us to display our products in a more consumer friendly way."

Last summer, the discounter announced plans to go head-to-head with the major supermarkets with a £600 million expansion. It's planning to open 60 new stores this year, with new regional distribution centres in Barnsley and Cardiff.

Existing stores will have a major refurbishment, and staff numbers are expected to double to 24,000.

But that's just the start - over the next eight years, the company's planning to open as many as 550 new outlets and take on another 35,000 staff.

Overall, however, there's a trend for supermarkets to get smaller. Customers are increasingly abandoning the 'big shop', and buying more often from smaller stores - when they're not buying online, that is.

And with financial pressures hitting them hard, the major supermarkets are responding with caution: according to the CBRE, proposals for new floor space last year were at their lowest level since the start of the financial crisis.

"The reason for the shift to smaller stores is in part a response to changing consumer shopping patterns but also because they are require less capital expenditure to deliver, have less impact on trade of existing stores and are easier to secure planning," says CBRE director Chris Keen.

Aldi's strategy of expansion stands in stark contrast to Tesco's plans, with the UK's biggest grocery chain recently announcing that it was to close 43 stores and abandon the opening of many more. But the company can afford to be confident: new figures from Kantar Worldpanel this week reveal that its market share is still rising, and now stands at 4.8%.

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