Blog: Dean BestAldi or M&S - who's hitting the right note with UK shoppers?

Dean Best | 16 May 2008

“For those who need a store with piped music, a choice of 42 yoghurts and who can't pack their own shopping bag, then maybe Aldi's not for them.”

So says the head of the German discount retail giant’s UK arm, Paul Foley.

But Aldi, the world’s eighth-largest retailer, is enjoying a bumper period in the UK. Footfall at Aldi’s UK stores has jumped by a quarter year-on-year.

The figures follow news earlier this week of Asda’s strong first quarter when like-for-like sales at the Wal-Mart unit climbed 6.4%. Consumer anxiety over the country’s economy is driving more shoppers into grocers focusing on value.

All eyes will be at the opposite end of the UK retail spectrum next week. Industry watchers await the latest news from Marks & Spencer, which will publish its annual results on Tuesday (20 May).

The company’s has been busy evaluating its food business – a review that has already led to cuts among some suppliers.

In the meantime, however, M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose has been busy visiting M&S stores; today he was at an outlet in Kent, where shoppers were serenaded by a soul singer and a guitarist in a plug for the company’s credit card.

“I’m glad that music has stopped. It was giving me a headache,” one employee said. “It’s all to do with the & More card. We even had Stuart Rose in today.”

Still, at least it’s not piped music.

On Tuesday, though, the City and food manufacturers up and down the country will be keen to hear whether M&S is hitting the right note with consumers.


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