By James Atkinson

Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have brought a fresh approach to wine retailing in the UK that is making their larger competitors take notice, according to a visiting wine judge.

Jane Parkinson, an award-winning journalist and presenter from the UK, was the international judge at the Sydney Royal Wine Show this month.

She told guests at Friday’s WCA Trophy Winners Lunch that the UK wine retail market had long been dominated by the big four retailers; Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsburys.

But she said the UK market had reached “an interesting turning point” with discount retailers Aldi and Lidl continuing their rampant growth.

“That might not be music to a lot of your ears, because it means lower prices. However, they have done an incredible job in the last 18 months to two years… they’ve really worked hard with their range of wines,” Parkinson said.

“They are sourcing wines from really good, reputable, interesting producers. They’re slapping their own label on them but these sorts of wines at these discount supermarkets are no longer something to be sniffed at.

“The wine community has really gotten behind them, because how can you not when the wines are actually decent quality?” she said.

Parkinson suggested the discount retailers had influenced the merchandising approach of their largest competitor, Tesco, which recently announced it was cutting its wine range by a third. 

“These discount supermarkets do not have large ranges by any means. They are going to show that you don’t need these walls of wines to keep the consumer happy, they are absolute proof of that, so that’s something to watch,” she said.

As evidence of the growth of the discount segment, Parkinson said Aldi had opened 70 new stores in the UK last year.

In Australia, Aldi now has about 350 stores. In November last year Aldi Australia declared its intention to open another another 120 outlets by expanding into South Australia and Western Australia.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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