By Scott Wright

Aldi, the German-owned grocery retailer, has vowed to continue expanding in Scotland as it prepares to launch its 100th store in the country.

The discounter has declared it will invest £49 million to open a further nine shops and extend stores in Scotland over 2022/23, pledging to add 400 more jobs to its current 3,200-strong headcount north of the Border.

The commitment came as Aldi reaches its Scottish century with the opening of its latest store at Hermiston Gait Retail Park today (Thursday). It marks the continuing progress of the grocer in Scotland since its arrival in 1994, when it opened its inaugural store in Kilmarnock.

Richard Holloway, regional managing director of Aldi Scotland, said the grocer’s growth in the country has been underpinned by the relationship it has built with local suppliers. Mr Holloway told The Herald: “For nearly 20 years, we have been fully focused on improving our offering to Scottish customers and growing the support we provide to Scottish producers.

“Scotland’s larder is like no other and, through continued market research, we know that Scots favour home-grown produce and it is important to them to be able to support local suppliers when they are doing their weekly shop.

“As a business, we feel the same and I think that a lot of our success in Scotland has come from being so intrinsically aligned with what the people of Scotland are looking for in a supermarket. Additionally, for us, this has meant our goals are clear: to continue to grow in Scotland it is essential that we continue to prioritise provenance and quality, but at the lowest-possible prices.”

Aldi Scotland said yesterday that it now works with 90 Scottish suppliers, which between them provide its stores with more than 450 products. It is aiming to lift the product number to 500 within two years.

Asked how the company was dealing with the well-documented global supply chain difficulties that have arisen from the pandemic, Mr Holloway said: “Just like our colleagues in the industry we are taking this day-by-day and working together to make sure we are still able to deliver a strong food and drink offering throughout Scotland.

“We have a committed buying team in Scotland who have strong relationships with the local suppliers we work with, which helps minimise the impact for Aldi.”

Mr Holloway said the company has been pleased with the response to vacancies at its stores and distribution centre in spite of the labour shortages that are affecting certain sectors. “In August we launched a recruitment campaign in a bid to bring an additional 490 people into our stores and distribution centre in Scotland,” he said.

“These will all be permanent and a mixture of part-time and full-time roles with further opportunities available in 2022.

“So far, we’ve been really pleased with the significant number of applications we have received and look forward to welcoming a host of new members to our team in the coming weeks.”

Asked how the Scottish stores were performing compared with the same time last year, and how the retailer was responding to surging inflation, Mr Holloway replied: “Sales continue to be strong, and with nine new stores, numerous extensions and improvements through our Project Fresh initiative, we’re confident as we head into the new year. It has been difficult to make YoY (year-on-year) comparisons due to the peaks and troughs created by the pandemic and the inevitable lockdowns.

“According to Kantar our market share has increased by 11.3% in the past two years when we compare it to pre-pandemic sales data.

“We work in a sector which is always subject to change and influence from external factors. Whilst current challenges are well reported in media across a number of sectors, Aldi works hard to manage this to provide the best possible price to our customers.”

Aldi’s new store in Edinburgh will employ a team of 30 people, led by manager Scott Woodburn. It will be officially opened today by Scottish Olympic cyclist Katie Archibald.