DISCOUNT supermarket chain Aldi has revealed it will open the doors of its 50th store in Scotland in Inverness on Thursday - the firm's second in the Highland capital.
The German-owned group has made a "multi-million pound investment" in the store, based in the Inshes Retail Park, which is one of eight openings it is planning north of the Border this year.
Sites in Airdrie, Greenock, Inverurie, Ellon, Perth and two in Glasgow have been earmarked for opening this year, as Aldi ultimately looks to double its estate in Scotland to 100 stores.
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Alongside the expansion of existing stores, the new arrivals will add more than 100 staff to its current 1200 headcount in Scotland. The new Inverness store will employ 20.
Last year Aldi added six stores to its Scottish estate, opening in locations such as Dundee, Paisley and Motherwell. It opened its first supermarket in Scotland, in Kilmarnock, in 1994.
The group's latest launch comes as figures from Kantar Worldpanel show the discounter increased its share of the UK grocery market by 1.3% to 7.2% in the 12 weeks to February 2. Aldi, Lidl and the Supervalu chain were the only groups to grow over the period, Kantar said.
The keen prices offered by Aldi and fellow German-owned chain Lidl have helped the discounters win market share at the expense of the major supermarkets during the economic downturn.
Squeezed by discounters at the lower end of the market, and by luxury retailers such as Waitrose at the top, Tesco and Asda have signalled plans to win custom back from Aldi and Lidl by pulling the trigger on promotions worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Morrisons is expected to follow suit when it announces its full-year results on Thursday.
Aldi's latest store will reflect the group's commitment to working with Scottish producers, under which it lists 250 products from 70 suppliers across its estate in Scotland. Several of those suppliers will appear in the new Inverness store to take part in sampling days on Friday and Saturday.
These include McKechnie Jess, which makes traditional Scottish breakfast packs, Dean's Shortbread and Highland Fine Cheeses.
Ambassadors from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are also due to appear in the store on those days, when they will hand out cooked samples of Aldi's Scotch lamb, Scotch beef and pork products.
Aldi will mark the launch of its new Inverness store, located on Sir Walter Scott Drive, with a range of special offers and entertainment, including a bagpiper and DJ.
The firm said the first 100 people in the queue will be handed a golden envelope, which will include a ticket giving them the chance to win televisions and Specially Selected Aldi hampers.
Aldi area manager Jack Jones said: "After seven months of preparation, my team and I are proud to be opening Aldi's 50th Scottish store in Inverness.
"Aldi now has a significant presence throughout Scotland, and our team are really looking forward to opening our second store to the people of Inverness.
"With 100 golden tickets and some great "specialbuys" up for grabs, we're expecting plenty of people down at the store to join in the celebrations."
Aldi was named supermarket of the year by Which? in 2012 and 2013.