Ricardo Santos, Managing Director of Marketing and Communication at ALDI, says the German supermarket chain wants to strengthen its presence in the cities where it is already located.
The German supermarket chain ALDI, popular across Europe, began its expansion in Portugal in the South and 14 years later has 80 shops throughout the country. At a time when it is reinforcing its presence in the North, Ricardo Santos, Managing Director of Marketing and Communication at ALDI, emphasises in an interview with idealista/news that the objective in the near future is to triple the number of ALDI stores in Portugal, opting for new locations and reinforcing its presence in the cities where it is already located, something which will be music to the ears of many expats living in Portugal. Let's have a closer look at the plans that the supermarket chain has in Portugal.
- Tell us about some of the moments that marked the growth of ALDI in Portugal?
ALDI has been in Portugal since 2006 and currently has 80 shops, with geographical representation from North to South in the country. We currently have over 2,000 employees in our shops and central services and we expect to create more jobs in the near future in order to sustain the growth in the number of new supermarkets we have planned.
- What investment has already been made and what is planned for the coming years?
In the last two years we have made a major investment in shop remodelling, with the aim of improving customers' shopping experience. All ALDI supermarkets have been refurbished and adapted to a new and modern ANIKO concept (ALDI Nord Instore Concept), which has made our stores more comfortable and transformed them into modern spaces, with simpler and clearer product identification and organisation. This means there is also more space for the products that consumers are most looking for, such as fresh or bread and pastry products.
- What is ALDI's strategy in Portugal for the next decade in terms of shop opening?
We have very ambitious goals for the coming years. In the near future, we will triple the number of shops in order to reach new geographical locations where we are not yet present, but we also want to strengthen our presence in relevant cities, where we are already represented, as well as to reinforce our presence in some urban centres. Therefore, we will continue to invest in the creation of jobs, both in shops and in central services and logistics centres.
- What distinguishes ALDI supermarkets in terms of own and exclusive brands?
Our positioning is based, above all, on offering exclusive brand products, which are of a high quality and have competitive prices. What distinguishes us from other chains is essentially the high quality of our branded products, the differentiated offer of food and non-food products with limited stock, available on a weekly basis, and the strong commitment we have been making to categories such as fresh, organic, vegetarian and vegan products, as well as gluten-free and lactose-free options.
- Tell us more about the fact that in several points of the country ALDI shares its location with other brands, both national and your direct competitor, Lidl, and more recently with Mercadona.
The geographical definition of the new shops has been based on a strong location criterion in order to serve customers better and in terms of convenience. We are aware that, as for us, this is a relevant factor for the other 'players' such as Lidl and Mercadona as well.
- What is ALDI's strategy regarding the incorporation of national products?
With the conversion to the ANIKO project, we have made our shops more customer-oriented, working continuously to offer an increasingly locally adapted assortment, therefore trying to meet the needs of the Portuguese market.
A recent example is our bread filled with suckling pig, a recipe that we have developed exclusively in order to offer more and more products with which Portuguese consumers identify. And it was also awarded the Taste of the Year award in 2019.
We focus on national producers in several categories, such as fruit and vegetables or fresh meat, which in this case already has more than 90% of products of national origin.
- Is the COVID-19 pandemic leaving its mark on the way supermarkets operate? How have the ALDI shops prepared themselves and how are they experiencing this new reality?
We are currently living in a new reality and we have to adapt to all the changes that are taking place. We believe it is very relevant to inform our customers, anticipate their needs and implement innovative solutions.
We were the first supermarket to implement easy access to our shops for professionals in the front line in the fight against COVID-19 at a national level, putting at their disposal an exclusive timetable for their use. As well as this, we have deepened our commitment to support Portuguese producers, increasing the presence of national products in our assortment of fruits, vegetables and fresh meat more than ever.
Our use of communication via social networks and customer support channels was also essential and very efficient, as it allowed us to create closer contact with consumers, as well as to encourage and thank our employees, who were always present in the front line.
- What was the turnover recorded by ALDI in 2019?
Our growth has been very positive in recent years, and Portugal continues to be a location in which the ALDI Nord group, to which we belong, intends to continue to invest.