Aldi takes on upmarket rivals with bigger festive range

The discount supermarket's Christmas range is 11% bigger than last year's

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Aldi is ramping up the battle for Christmas shoppers by increasing its festive food and drinks range as it takes aim at upmarket rivals Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Fortnum & Mason.

The German discounter said that its Christmas range is 11% bigger this year compared to last, making 2016 its biggest ever line up of festive products.

Aldi added it was "taking on" Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Fortnum & Mason with almost 200 items including a range of luxury Christmas hampers, rope-hung boxed smoked Scottish salmon and a jewelled layered pork pie.

Tony Baines, Aldi's joint managing director of corporate buying, said: "At Christmas we know that people want to treat their family and friends to luxury food and drink. Yet many shoppers are unaware they are spending more than they should for certain products sold by many retailers and supermarkets.

"At Aldi many of our Specially Selected products are sourced from exactly the same suppliers as more expensive food retailers."

The latest move is further evidence that Aldi is targeting middle class shoppers, and the group hailed sales of its premium Specially Selected range, which have risen by 25% this year to £600 million.

Aldi now expects sales in this category, which includes dry-aged steaks and champagne, to top £750 million in 2017.

The supermarket sector is currently embroiled in a bitter price war with all of the so-called Big Four supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - coming under pressure from Aldi and Lidl.

Earlier this year Aldi said that sales grew by 12% to £7.7 billion in 2015, with the grocer doubling its turnover in just three years. But while the company confirmed like-for-like sales were in positive territory, chief executive Matthew Barnes admitted they had slowed.