Aldi has revealed a stunning financial turnaround over the past year, returning pre-tax profits of £70.5m for 2011 compared to a £56.9m loss the year before.
Turnover for the calendar year was up 29% to £2.76bn, meanwhile.
“During the past three years, we have focused more on understanding what consumers want and responded by working with a growing number of UK suppliers to offer great tasting and quality products at everyday low prices,” said joint group MD Roman Heini.
“We’re now sourcing around two-thirds of our core range from UK suppliers. Consumers are attracted to Aldi by our brand-matched quality products and keep returning to our stores when they realise their weekly shop can cost around a third less than in the big supermarkets.”
Heini’s fellow co-head Matthew Barnes added: “Sales of our fresh meat range have doubled, while fruit & veg sales are up 48% and bakery sales are up 40%.
“In addition, we are seeing a trend of increasing footfall and sales growth at all of our stores nationwide. Fresh food is an important part of the weekly shop and consumers are flocking to Aldi as they realise we offer some of the freshest food in the UK.”
Barnes continued: “We’re constantly looking at what we do and innovating in line with consumer demand.
“This has seen us expand our product range by 30%, source the vast majority of produce from UK-based companies and make changes like introducing trolleys with baby seats, baskets and more premium products such as fillet steak. This approach is helping us win awards and creating strong levels of brand loyalty among consumers.”
Heini said Aldi was expecting “similar growth in 2012 in terms of sales volumes and turnover”. “People no longer feel they need to shop at Aldi – they want to shop in our stores,” he argued.
The discounter said it would be recruiting 4,500 new staff in the coming year, including 250 apprentices and 100 graduates. It will also re-invest £181m of operating profits back into the business to fund investment through 2013.