Aldi Team GB truck

Great Britain and Germany haven’t always got on.

In 2016, that relationship will come under the spotlight again. Yes, it will be 50 years since Germany played their little socks off trying to beat England in the World Cup final but fell woefully short, copping an embarrassing 4-2 thrashing, including a splendidly taken hat-trick by Geoff Hurst.

Oh, and German-owned Aldi will sponsor Team GB in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

That’s fantastic news for the athletes, who can now get their collective heads down and focus on bringing home gold medals, rather than trying to raise funds to buy new trainers.

But, somewhat inevitably, the deal has raised the question of us being supported by them. And given the sporting history, it’s understandable that it feels odd to some. Although things are rarely as simple as that.

Of course Aldi is part of Aldi Sud, which is a German company. But alongside the credit crunch, and by introducing a less utilitarian approach to retailing, Aldi has made the strides it has in Britain by adopting an anglophile approach to everything it does, including its ever-increasing use of British suppliers.

That has attracted British shoppers, which in turn has created British jobs. On Tuesday, joint MD for corporate buying Jonathan Neale told The Grocer that Aldi plans to hire another 35,000 people over the next seven years, on top of the 27,000 it currently employs, as it attempts to double in size.

And Aldi believes everything it has done so far to become British, including its sponsorship of Team GB, means it has gone from “a brand that was seen as predominantly German to very much a British supermarket, albeit with a German owner,” said fellow joint MD for corporate buying Tony Baines.

“Our emphasis is on being British,” he added. “We still get called the German discounters in the press but we feel properly part of the furniture of British retail now. And being the first supermarket to sponsor Team GB helps us cement that with consumers.”

So in its quest for British naturalisation, has Aldi succeeded?

Well, it’s clearly a different operation to the one that arrived in Birmingham in 1990, from its new British CEO down to its British meat and veg. But what is important when it comes to brand identity nowadays? Is it people and provenance? Or is it ownership?

Because if it’s the latter, then Aldi is definitely not British. It’s German. Just like Rolls-Royce.

Or Cadbury, which isn’t British because it’s owned by American Mondelez. Or Branston (Japanese Mizkan), or Weetabix (Chinese Bright Food) or Tetley Tea (Indian Tata Global) and so on and so on. It’s a long list.

Yet all are still British, in a way. It’s just that over the years, business lines have blurred and divisions and definitions have dissolved. Commerce has become global. Just like the Olympics.

So perhaps the best people to ask if Aldi’s German parentage is an issue would be Team GB themselves, seeing as they are the ones being sponsored. Although they’d probably just laugh, put on their new trainers and head off to training. With exactly 365 days to go, Rio 2016 awaits. And thanks to all their sponsors, from BP to DFS, Adidas, Nissan, Deloitte, Fitness First and Aldi, now they have a clear run at it.