Discount supermarket chain Aldi aims to double the number of UK stores and create 4,500 jobs after returning to profit and posting a 54pc jump in market share.
The German retailer has benefited from British shoppers searching for ways to cut the cost of the weekly groceries as the financial downturn worsens.
Group turnover was up to £2.76bn during 2011, compared to £2.14bn over the previous year. The company also returned to profitabillity over the period, making £57.8m after tax following losses of £56m the previous year.
Aldi said customers switching their weekly shop to the low-cost chain has helped drive profitability, and in response it has developed bakery, meat and fruit and vegetable ranges to stop them looking elsewhere for fresh produce. Sales of fresh meat doubled during 2011, while revenue from fruit and vegetables was up 48pc.
According to Nielsen data over the four weeks to June 23 this year, Aldi now has 4.1pc of the UK grocery market, a year-on-year growth of 54.1pc.
The company now hopes to have 500 shops in the UK by the end of 2013 and will spend £181m before then opening 40 new stores, creating 4,500 new jobs into the bargain.
After that the company plans to settle into an expansion programme that will see between 35 and 40 new shops opened every year. UK joint managing director Roman Heini said that this could lead to a doubling of the number of Aldi outlets over the next 10 years.
“During the past three years, we have focused more on understanding what consumers want and responded by working with a growing number of UK suppliers to offer great tasting and quality products at everyday low prices. We’re now sourcing around two thirds of our core range from UK suppliers," he said.
“Consumers are attracted to Aldi by our brand-matched quality products and keep returning to our stores when they realise their weekly shop can cost around a third less than in the big supermarkets.”
Aldi is still a privately-owned German company and only opened its first UK store in 1990. The low-cost retailer initially did very well in the wake of the financial crisis as British shoppers increasingly searched for ways to cut the spend on their weekly shop. But the large supermarkets fought back with heavy discounts.