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Business

Aldi said to launch online sales

German discounter Aldi is considering moving into online retailing in Germany, the UK and other EU countries, after dismissing an e-commerce platform of its own as unprofitable for a long time.

"Lebensmittel Zeitung," a German trade journal, reported Thursday that Aldi South, which runs the retail giant's UK and Irish businesses, was planning to go online in Britain and Germany, while sister company Aldi North was considering a similar move in Spain and Portugal.

Citing unnamed sources close to the matter, the German journal said Aldi was considering the UK as a potential launchpad because about 5 percent of grocery sales were made via the internet in this country, well ahead of other European countries.

A spokesman for Aldi UK told British newspaper "The Guardian" on Friday: "It is not an immediate focus for Aldi, which currently has the best performing business model in the grocery sector. However, it is an area we monitor as part of our customer-focused approach."

Race for market share

Aldi and fellow German discounter Lidl have been expanding rapidly in Britain, stealing market share from bellwethers Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons.

But until now, the discounters were thought unlikely to begin trading online as their business model is based on keeping things simple and efficient to keep prices for shoppers low.

According to consumer goods research group IGD, online grocery sales will roughly double from 2012 to 2016 in five major northern European markets, including Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

In the UK alone, Internet orders are expected to rise more than 50 percent over the next five years to 17 billion pounds ($25 billion, 23 billion euros).

Germany's second-biggest supermarket group REWE said earlier this month it was investing heavily in grocery e-commerce even though it does not expect to turn a profit in that segment anytime soon. REWE also said it expected US online giant Amazon to expand its food delivery service.

uhe/ng (Reuters, AFP)

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