Finanzas: Aldi’s UK profits drop for third successive year despite growth

Fachada de Aldi, estacionamiento con carros, mujer con carrito de mercado


The UK arm of Aldi has announced a third consecutive year of falling profits as the German discounter struggles to maintain cheaper prices against its supermarket rivals.

The grocery chain reported a 17% fall in profits to £211.3m in the year to 31 December 2016, from £255.6m the year before, despite a 13.5% leap in sales to £8.74bn.


The company said half its fall in operating margin had been the result of keeping prices low or cutting them, the rest came from investing in new stores and distribution centres as it geared up for future growth.

Matthew Barnes, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, said: “Since 1990 when we arrived in the UK our approach has been based on the long game, not short-term profit.”

He said sales at established stores had risen strongly and “reaccelerated” this year, partly as a result of investment to keep prices down, though he would not give a figure.

Barnes said Aldi would do “everything and anything” to keep its prices lower than bigger rivals, indicating that profits might fall again next year. “We will never take our eye off the ball on price. We see that as our contract with our customers,” he said.

Aldi claims to be 15.2% cheaper than Asda, its nearest mainstream competitor, making it the cheapest chain in the UK. Barnes would not comment on how Aldi compared with its German discount rival Lidl.

But Aldi has also been forced to slim its margins to maintain its lead after Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s cut prices on basic groceries.

Inflation in costs since the fall of the pound against the euro and the dollar after last year’s Brexit vote has also affected costs.

Aldi has experienced rapid growth in the UK, overtaking the Co-op this year to become the fifth largest chain. The group said it wanted to open 70 stores next year, the same number as 2017, as part of its plan for 1,000 outlets by 2022. Aldi has 726 stores in the UK. “As others are scaling back we are are most definitely scaling up,” Barnes said.

More than 1 million shoppers had switched to the discounter, helping to double its sales and market share in less than four years, Aldi claimed.


Barnes said Aldi had universal appeal as shoppers of all ages and demographics were increasingly choosing its supermarkets. “Our growth is accelerating, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of new customers switching their shop to Aldi,” he said.

“This is happening right across the UK and it is all down to a simple, straightforward commitment – products comparable to the leading brands and supermarket premium ranges at the lowest prices in Britain.”

He said the supermarket was responding to shoppers’ demands by increasing its number of items on sale to 1,800 from 1,500, including new products such as Manuka honey and “courgetti” (courgette spaghetti) as well as more premium lines for Christmas.

Aldi’s best-performing categories over the past year included its Specially Selected range, sales of which rose 40%; fresh fruit, veg, fish and meat also increased strongly.

The retailer’s online wine and non-food business increased sales by 90% after launching last year, selling 2m bottles of wine.



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