Top story

Aldi has announced its total sales jumped 7.9% in the four weeks to 24 December to break £1bn for the first time.

The discounter said its “record” festive performance was driven by a surge in demand for beers, WINE and spirits, premium specially selected products and fresh British meat.

Total sales in the beers, wine and spirits category increased by 9.2% year-on-year, with sales of sparkling wine increasing by more than 14%.

Its Premium specially selected range, including ‘exquisite bronze turkey’ and ‘British beef roasting joint’, and its wider range of fresh British meat were both up 8% in the period.

During the run up to Christmas, Aldi also sold 55 million mince pies, 22 million pigs in blankets and more than 2 million Christmas puddings.

Aldi UK CEO Giles Hurley said: “More customers than ever before shopped with us this Christmas because they knew Aldi offered unbeatable value on premium products and the lowest prices on festive essentials.

“Although we saw strong growth across all key categories, sales of our premium Specially Selected range surpassed expectations, as customers snapped up these products for a fraction of the price they would have paid elsewhere.”

Aldi currently has 874 UK stores and said it remains on target to achieve its long-term target of 1,200 stores by 2025.

Its share of the UK grocery market currently stands at 8.0%, having increased by 0.4% during the last 12 months.

Morning update

Compass Group (CPG) chairman Paul Walsh is to step down from his role to ‘focus on other business interests’.

He will remain as chairman until his successor is appointed and so will not seek re-election at the 2021 AGM.

John Bason, senior independent director, will lead the search for a new chairman.

Walsh said: “It has been a privilege to serve for the last 6 years as Chairman of Compass, which is a world-class business and a true British success story on the global stage. We have a strong and well-established chief executive in place and I will work to ensure a seamless transition to my successor as chairman.”

French retail giant Carrefour (CA) has announced the acquisition of French lunch delivery business Dejbox.

The deal expands Carrefour’s e-grocery offerings to include both a new product segment (ready-to-eat meals) and a new customer base (B2E, or the business-to-employee market).

Founded in 2015 by two entrepreneurs, Adrien Verhack and Vincent Dupied, Dejbox is an online canteen for business employees. They can choose their lunch from a wide range of fresh, cooked and seasonal dishes for the cost of a restaurant voucher (€5.90 to €8.90) and have it delivered to their workplace at no charge.

Operating in Lille, Lyon, Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes and Grenoble, plus hundreds more towns and cities located near those metropolises, Dejbox delivers over 400,000 meals each month. Its growth has been spearheaded by more than 300 workers, including 140 food preparers and delivery personnel employed directly by Dejbox – a factor that sets the company apart from other meal delivery platforms that rely heavily on gig-economy workers.

As part of the Carrefour Group, Dejbox will be able to expand its French operations at a rapid pace and very quickly move into international markets as well.

Amélie Oudéa-Castera, executive director customers, services and digital transformation at Carrefour, commented: “This acquisition, which reflects Carrefour’s desire to become the leader in grocery e-commerce, is a strategic on. It will give us the opportunity to expand our customer base to include employees of medium-sized, small and micro businesses and also invest in the fast-growing food delivery segment with an offering rooted in quality and affordability.”

Dejbox co-founders Adrien Verhack and Vincent Dupied said: “We made the strategic decision to join with Carrefour because we firmly believe it’s the best possible partner for helping us achieve our ambitious growth plans for Dejbox and for offering as many people as possible an online, affordable, sustainable and tasty alternative to a sandwich or a home-cooked meal.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has opened down another 1.1% to 7,540.8pts as concerns over the situation in the Middle East rise.

The day’s few risers include Bakkavor, up 2.2% to 146.8p, Eage Eye Solutions, up 2.2% to 231p and Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), up 2.1% to 485p.

Major fallers so far include Morrisons (MRW), down 3.7% to 191.7p, McColl’s (MCLS), down 1.9% to 38p, DS Smith (SMDS), down 1.9% to 379.7p and Sainsbury’s (SBRY), down 1.8% to 225p.

This week in the City

The raft of crucial Christmas retail trading updates begin flooding in this week.

Morrisons (MRW) kicks off the process tomorrow morning, while the monthly Kantar and Nielsen grocery market share figures covering the festive period will also be out tomorrow morning.

Sainsbury’s (SBRY) will update the market on its festive trading on Wednesday, along with food to go stalwart Greggs (GRG).

Tesco (TSCO) and Marks & Spencer (MKS) will release their own Christmas trading updates on Thursday, while Waitrose and John Lewis are expected to issue their collective Xmas trading update on the same morning.

Nichols (NICL) is also scheduled to release a full year trading update on Thursday.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales figures for December will also be out on Thursday morning.

B&M European Retail (BME) will post its third quarter results on Friday.

Internationally, newsflow is slower – though Costco and Walgreens Boots Alliance are expected to post trading updates on Wednesday.