Aldi hails wine surge despite market woes

Aldi has shrugged off market pressures like exchange rates and duty hikes to post surging wine sales figures this summer.

The retailer has regular outperformed all its rivals in the wine category over the past few years, but it said that has accelerated in recent months.

Buyer Mike James told DRN: “The last 12 weeks have been some of the best data we have had in a while. We are absolutely flying.”

When asked why that might be, he said: “I think we got our offer right. We have a bigger range, but it’s not so big that it’s complicated, and it’s all very much within our morals.

“There has been a lot of price inflation across the shop floor, so maybe more people again are going to the discounters, like they did back in 2008 when the recession hit. But on the other hand is outperforming other categories, so hopefully we can keep it going.”

Christmas is approaching and Aldi is ramping up its focus on classics from much-loved French appellations that are popular during the festive period.

But is also keeping plenty of intriguing bottles on shelf for consumers that have no interest in the French classics, and said it plans to continue launching a steady stream of innovation throughout the year.

James is off to France soon to witness the effect frost has had on vineyards and try to secure the best tanks amid competition created by low volume.

“Long-term relationships with suppliers are more and more key,” he said. “I know everyone bangs on about it, but it really is key, with the vagaries in the harvests and exchange rates, because it’s bloody hard. Exchange rates are killing everyone. You can’t just whack £2 on the price of everything. The good suppliers are receptive.

“The interesting place is Australia, because that market has changed so much in the past two years. China has overtaken the UK from a value perspective in imports, so they can sell to China instead, and there it really is key work closely with the suppliers long-term, because otherwise they have a very big opportunity to replace you. We are still massively important to them, but it has changed and it’s important to really tighten up those supplier relationships.”

James also hailed Portugal’s potential after beefing up the retailer’s offering from the Iberian nation, with a focus on the Douro. “It is a sleeping giant, particularly with the difficult harvests in other parts of Europe, and also they have upped their game in terms of technological advances in their wineries,” he said. “It is becoming more and more attractive.”

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