The British and Irish arm of German discount supermarket group Aldi said it plans to invest £1.3 billion (€1.52 billion) over the next two years, opening 100 new stores.
Aldi, Britain's fifth largest supermarket group with an 8% market share, said 2020 sales in the UK and Ireland rose 10.2% to £13.5 billion (€15.7 billion) but operating profit fell 1.2% to £287.7 million (€336 million) due to the costs of the pandemic.
Giles Hurley, chief executive officer for Aldi UK and Ireland, said, “As well as delivering record sales, we continued to invest for growth, deploying over £600 million in stores and distribution centres across the UK. This helped to create thousands of much-needed jobs and support for British farmers and manufacturers.
“Whilst the cost of responding to the pandemic dampened profits, our decision to return business rate relief was the right thing to do.”
Hurley also praised Aldi employees for their outstanding efforts during the pandemic saying, "Despite some of the most difficult conditions our sector has ever seen, our people underlined the strength, success and spirit of our business."
The investment will see the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs next year, adding to the 7,000 permanent roles already created over the past two years.
The company will also expand its logistics infrastructure, including a new 1.3 million square-foot site in Leicestershire.
It will also invest in developing its click and collect service and other technological initiatives. This includes the pilot of a new Aldi checkout-free concept store in Greenwich, London, which will use a system of cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence to identify the items customers take from shelves, eliminating the need to go through a checkout.
Last year, the discounter invested an additional £1 billion in UK companies to source British goods, taking the total to £9 billion. It also reaffirmed its commitment to buy British wherever possible.
'Redefining The Discount Supermarket'
Hurley added, “We’re continuing to gain even more customers – with over 60% of households shopping with Aldi in the last year. By redefining the discount supermarket in the UK, creating more places and more ways to shop with us, we are excited to provide millions of new customers with access to Aldi’s award-winning quality and unbeatable value.”
The discounter has pledged to halve the volume of plastic packaging in its operations by 2025 by removing over two billion pieces of plastic from circulation.
In April, it launched a trial at its Ulverston store in Cumbria to sell packaging-free products to help customers shop more sustainably.