Lidl overtakes Waitrose in ranking of UK's biggest supermarkets

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Discount grocer Lidl has overtaken middle class favourite Waitrose to become Britain’s seventh biggest supermarket chain.

The German owned retailer, which has ambitious expansion plans in London, now has a 5.2 per cent share of the £150 billion a year market, up from 4.5 per cent a year ago according to latest industry figures for the 12 weeks to mid-August. 

That puts it ahead of Waitrose, unchanged on 5.1 per cent, and comes two years after rival “no frills” chain Aldi surpassed the John Lewis owned supermarket. 

The two discount groups, which have ruthlessly targetted the affluent families once loyal to Waitrose and Sainsbury, now have a combined market share of 11.5 per cent and continue to surge ahead with double digit growth rates.

Fraser McKevitt, retail head at market researchers Kantar Worldpanel, which compiled the figures, said: “Ten million households visited Lidl’s expanding network of stores during the past 12 weeks, with alcohol and fresh produce performing particularly well as it increased sales by 18.9 per cent overall.  

“Lidl is growing sales 40 per cent faster with families than with households without children.  Families tend to buy more items each time they shop, so strong growth with this demographic has helped Lidl to increase its average basket size year on year.  Not far behind, Aldi grew sales by 17.2 per cent, attracting 1.1 million more shoppers through its doors than this time last year and increasing market share by 0.8 percentage points to stand at seven per cent.”

Despite its rapid growth Lidl still has a relatively thin presence in the capital but has been looking for more sites in affluent neighbourhoods. Last month it was revealed that Lidl is taking over a store previously owned by Morrisons in Shepherds Bush in west London.

It has also been luring in higher spending shoppers with initiatives such as the so called “Claret Offensive” that saw it stocking ranges of higher quality wines.

Lidl UK chief Christian Härtnagel said: “Lidl’s high quality products at unbeatable low prices are proving a hit with UK customers. The business is going from strength to strength, supported by our efficient model and hard-working employees. These latest figures are an indication of our ambitions for the future, as we bring Lidl stores to more towns and cities across the country.”

The big four – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – are steadily losing ground to the two discounters with a 69.3 per cent of the UK grocery market this summer down from 76.3 per cent five years ago.

The figures came as another survey showed a sharp slow down in supermarket shopping during the cool August run of poor weather.

Supermarket sales rose by just 2.5 per cent year on year this month compared with 5.1 per cent in July, according to retail data from researchers Nielsen. 

Sales of soft drinks were particularly impacted, falling 6.1 per cent year-on-year.

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