Having announced record sales and made its first move online, the company, which has benefited from the downturn and changing customer habits, said annual group sales had soared to £6.9bn from £5.2bn – boosted by a record investment in new stores and distribution centres of £438m, up from £274m.
As a result of the increased spend, operating profit dropped to £260.3m from £271.4m.
The business, which opened its first UK store in 1990, has now more than doubled its sales in the past three years.
It said 2014 sales had been helped by offering more British sourced produce as well as more premium and “Specially Selected” lines such as deli items, fresh produce, meat and herbs.
Wine was also popular, with over 1,000 bottles of wine from its Exquisite Collection sold per hour – with year-on-year sales up 40 per cent.
Aldi also confirmed plans to launch an ecommerce operation early next year selling wine by the case. This will be followed by its non-food “Specialbuys” range later in 2016.
Shoppers will be able to collect their goods through home delivery and collections from third party locations.
Matthew Barnes, chief executive of Aldi UK & Ireland, said: “Our focus on offering the best-quality products and range at unbeatable, straightforward prices is bringing more and more shoppers through our doors, helping us to achieve consistent market-leading growth in sales.
“We refuse to be beaten on price by anyone. We’re maintaining a significant price gap of at least 15 per cent on an average basket of goods – people are seeing that value at the checkout, tasting the quality at home and coming back to do a full weekly shop, time and time again.
“As the grocery market continues to evolve, our unique model, operational efficiency, private ownership and financial strength mean we’re able to keep investing in our business – from people and presence to products and prices.”
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Commenting on the firm’s ecommerce plans, he said: “Our launch online is another exciting chapter in our story. This will enable us to introduce the Aldi brand and some of our best-selling, best-quality and best-value products to thousands more customers across the UK.
“As well as driving down prices for shoppers, our growth and investment is having a lasting and positive effect on the UK economy, with more local jobs and more British-made products across our stores. We’re also determined to ensure our success is shared along the supply chain, with fair terms and predictable pricing to create better conditions for growers and producers.”
Aldi currently operates 598 stores in the UK and said it remains on course to achieve a target of 1,000 stores by 2022. It expects to open 65 stores this year, up from 54 in 2014.
Currently employing 28,000 people, 600 are apprentices and 350 graduates. The company is on course to create another 600 apprenticeships by the end of 2015.
Barnes added: “The past 25 years has been an incredible journey for Aldi in the UK. During that time, the grocery market has changed beyond recognition – and changed for the better. At present, there are still 47 per cent of households that don’t shop with us. We’re hugely excited about the enormous scope for growth over the next 25 years.”
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