Aldi invests €60m in ‘Project Fresh’ revamp

Grocer to expand its selection of fresh foods by increasing chiller space by up to 40%

Aldi stores will also get a cosmetic makeover under Project Fresh. Photograph:  Alan Betson

Aldi stores will also get a cosmetic makeover under Project Fresh. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The German discount grocer Aldi is investing €60 million in a reboot of its Irish stores format, in a rollout known internally as Project Fresh.

Central to the plan is an expansion of its selection of fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, by increasing chiller space by up to 40 per cent in its 129 stores. This will allow it to widen its range, fine-tuning a strategy to satisfy growing demand for fresh products and meet consumer trends around food provenance.

Project Fresh also includes relocating all of its fresh produce departments to the front of all its stores. It is also trialling in-store bakeries at its stores in Wilton, Cork, and Newlands Cross in Dublin, although Giles Hurley, managing director for Ireland and the UK, said “the jury is out” about whether bakeries will be rolled out across its entire estate.

Its stores will also get a cosmetic makeover under Project Fresh, with new floors and signage and the elimination of signs hanging from the ceilings of stores in order to reduce the appearance of clutter.

The new format has already been rolled out at a handful of stores such as Sallynoggin in south Dublin. Its larger stores in metropolitan areas are likely to be upgraded relatively quickly, although it will take up to five years to implement the changes across its entire estate.

New stores

Mr Hurley said Aldi, which has 11.4 per cent of the Irish market, will soon expand its footprint with new stores in Ennistymon, Trim and Leixlip. It has “nine target locations” for 2018, for which it already has planning for five, three more are expected to be decided by An Bord Pleanala and one is at an early stage.

Mr Hurley said Aldi has about 50 “target locations” beyond its existing network, but he expressed frustration at the delays in the planning process.

“I’m disappointed we haven’t opened more this year. We have had a few hiccups with planning,” he said. Tesco, for example, has objected to a proposed development at Clarehall in north Dublin, near a major Tesco store.

“It’s frustrating, We specifically target locations that are within the planning guidelines,” said Mr Hurley.

“It is an expensive process and it doesn’t make sense to chase shadows. Our competitors object on planning grounds, but there is a sense that there is a competitive element to their objections.”

Aldi is in the early stages of a €100 million expansion that will see it open up to 20 new stores over three years.

Separate to this, Mr Hurley said it would also look at extending a number of its smaller stores. Some of its earliest stores when it entered the market were about 800sq m, but its latest stores are bigger, at over 1,250sq m.