Hot Cross Bun bonanza fuels Aldi growth

Aldi Buns

“This was a record-breaking Easter for Aldi," says chief executive Giles Hurley, reacting to the figures which show a gain in market share for Aldi in the first 12 weeks of the year.

"Our Hot Cross Buns proved particularly popular, selling more than two million a week in the run-up to the holiday," he adds.

“This strong Easter trading period, following our best-ever Christmas, shows that Aldi is increasingly becoming the supermarket of choice for key seasonal events."

Asda now UK's second largest grocer

Asda shopping basket

UK supermarkets saw their sales grow over the 12 week period to 24 March, except for Sainsbury's and Morrisons which both had slight sales drops, according to Kantar, publishing its latest sector report.

Aldi sales grew 10.6% with London its fastest growing region. More people are now visiting Aldi than Morrisons.

While Asda's sales grew only 0.1%, it has crept up to become Britain's second largest retailer.

Here's how market share now looks for the grocers:

  • Tesco 27.4%
  • Asda 15.4%
  • Sainsbury's 15.3%
  • Morrisons 10.3%
  • Aldi 8%
  • Co-op 6.1%
  • Lidl 5.6%
  • Waitrose 5%

Aldi increases staff pay rates

Aldi shopping basket
Getty Images

Discount supermarket chain Aldi has announced that it is raising its pay rates for store employees from 1 February onwards.

The new minimum hourly rate for store assistants will be £9.10 nationally and £10.55 inside the M25, rising to £10.41 after three years nationally and £10.89 in London.

The previous rates were £8.85 and £10.20 respectively.

All store assistants will also receive an enhanced employer pension contribution.

Analysis: Argos loses lustre

Dominic O'Connell

Business Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Sainsbury's and Argos stores

Pundits had expected J Sainsbury to have the weakest Christmas numbers of the big four grocery chains.

They were right – but for the wrong reasons.

Sainsbury’s core grocery business did quite well given the fierce competition from the mainstream rivals Tesco, Morrison’s and Asda, and the extra squeeze from the German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The weakness came in so-called general merchandise, which includes Argos, which Sainsbury’s bought two years ago.

The problem, Sainsbury’s said, was not Christmas trading, but Black Friday.

It chose not to follow rivals’ fierce discounting and sales suffered accordingly.

While this explanation is undoubtedly correct, it will not impress investors, who will point out that Argos was meant to provide diversification away from the super-competitive grocery market, and that complaining about discounting on Black Friday is like complaining about cold weather in January.

All this week’s trading updates show only sales. We will not know the real winners – which retailers turned those sales into profits – until later in the year, in Sainsbury’s case the full-year results in May.