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Aldi wine sales lead the way as retailer growth continues

Published:  24 March, 2017

Aldi has shown the fastest year-on-year growth of all retailers according to latest Kantar Worldpanel figures

Aldi has shown the fastest year-on-year growth of all retailers according to latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, measuring performance to 26 February 2017.

The business has shown growth of +11.2% over last 52 weeks, building from a 4.8% share to 5.4%,ahead of Lidl and M&S total performance. While beers and spirits slightly under-trade, the wine category continues to outperform the overall business, having grown by 7.6% year on year, and now holding a 6% share of total wine market, up from 5.5% last year.

Wine has been one of the hero categories within this strong performance, scooping numerous awards and accolades over the last two years, and introducing a strong above the line advertising campaign to endorse its wine credentials.

Aldi now has just over 700 stores in the UK, with plans for around 70 new openings this year. The company operates a radically different buying strategy from its key rival Lidl, where sourcing of product is selected from within the global group of suppliers, with wines picked to suit individual markets.

At Aldi, the buying remit gives the UK buying team scope to source from producers and suppliers that they feel are best for their market, and they are not limited by options.

With Mike James and David Elliott at the helm, the group has developed strong relationships with producers all over the world, with James blending wine on a bespoke basis for the retailer's UK requirements, whilst ensuring that the 'value' offer continues to be maintained at all levels.

At their recent Spring press tasting, the buying team showcased a selection of 65 wines, encompassing core lines and seasonal. Aldi are very clear on the provenance of their wine range.

"We are proud of where we buy our wine, how we blend, and with whom we work," said James. "We are absolutely transparent on that, and want to tell our customers the stories behind the wines."

This is re-enforced by the company's website, as part of their recent evolution into online sales, which now accounts for sales of 2 million bottles per year. There is a clear section, Meet our Suppliers, showcasing key winemaker relationships such as Jean-Claude Mas from France, Te Pa from New Zealand, Wakefield from Australia and Champagne Philizot.

A key focus at the tasting was a new range of French wines.

"It was time to celebrate France, and to try to remove some of the barriers that consumers seem to have with the complexities of labelling," James added. "We want to celebrate the regions and the diversity, but bring these to customers in a fun, appropriate and relevant way."

The retailer is also launching a selection of four wines, all priced at £4.99, under the brand Pardon my French, a concept evolved with French wine supplier Les Grands Chais de France. This includes a Cotes de Gascogne blanc, and three reds, Cotes de Ventoux, Minervois and Fitou. "We wanted to find an easy way of bringing lesser-known appellations to the fore," James continued.

This theme continued with the introduction of two wines developed specifically by Aldi, named The Forgotten One, which comprises an Haut Poitou Sauvignon and a Cahors.

Aldi is also dipping its toe into the organic sector of the market, with the introduction of eight wines as the Green Collection. All the wines are either labelled organic, carbon neutral, or no sulphur added, and will be available from 4 April, and will be part of the seasonal collection. These include two wines from Australian Wakefield Estates, 80 Acres Carbon Neutral Shiraz Viognier, and 80 Acres Carbon Neutral Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, positioned at £6.99.

Other new wines include a clutch of fresh, well-priced Iberian whites, with a new Albarino and Godello, also available from 4 April.

Beer is another key focus for the business, with a range of 16 new regional beers being introduced as part of the Aldi Beer festival, which launches on 28 May. These include brews from Butcombe, Box Steam, Shepherd Neame, Robinsons and Hall & Woodhouse. Aldi's beer sales have grown by 6.4% over the last year, with a current market share of 4.5%.