German discounter Aldi is planning to launch an online store in Britain, according to reports.
The retailer, which has long avoided online sales as it is not profitable enough, has offered online delivery of alcoholic drinks in Australia since 2013 but the UK launch would be its first foray into ecommerce in Europe.
Aldi South, which runs the chain in Britain, could go online in other countries including Germany, while sister company Aldi North was considering ecommerce in Spain and Portugal, according to German trade journal Lebensmittel Zeitung
Aldi South declined to comment on the article beyond saying the German holding group was not currently planning any online trade, referring queries about Britain to the unit there, which was not immediately available to comment.
Aldi, the world’s biggest discount chain, and rival Lidl have been expanding rapidly in Britain, stealing market share from incumbents Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
Last month Aldi revealed plans to open more than 70 new stores and recruit almost 5,000 staff in Britain this year. The scheme will add to its current 560 outlets in the country, pushing its portfolio of stores past 600.
All four incumbents are competing fiercely for a share of the rapidly growing grocery ecommerce market, with Morrisons the last to go online when it struck a deal with Ocado last year.
Grocery ecommerce is more advanced in Britain than elsewhere in Europe, already accounting for about 5pc of sales.
Online grocery sales will roughly double from 2012 to 2016 in five major northern European markets – Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the food and consumer goods research group IGD forecasts.
REWE, Germany’s second-biggest supermarket group, said earlier this month it was investing heavily in grocery ecommerce even though it does not expect to turn a profit soon, as it braces for Amazon to expand its food delivery service.
Complex logistics for fresh and frozen produce means it is hard to make online grocery profitable, particularly for retailers selling cut-price goods like those on offer at Aldi.