“We hope they feel welcome,” said Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett of Aldi after addressing a service at St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney.  It remains to be seen if Corbett’s Christian kindness is a permanent fixture of the Australian retail sector, however, as market shares of the established giants fall to accommodate the popularity of the discount German retailer.

The head of the country’s largest supermarket chain, Corbett was gracious about the foreigner’s arrival: “The more competition, the better. The customers will benefit.”

He added however that Woolworths would be fighting Aldi on prices all the way: “Woolies will certainly be competing with Aldi very, very strongly and that’s what good enterprise is about. We’ll always be competitive, and we planned for Aldi’s arrival.”

The fight is set to get increasingly vicious. The first phase of Aldi’s Australian operations is expected to involve the opening of 100 outlets. Two of these opened in Sydney last week, to be joined by two more tomorrow (1 February). Three more will open over the next two weeks.

Furthermore, the construction of a A$50m storage and distribution centre in Melbourne is prompting speculation that the group will next focus on retailing space in this district.