Planning objections and legal challenges by big rivals could stop Aldi hitting its target of having 1,200 stores across the UK by 2025.

Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, said such moves - which include one high-profile case recently in Aberdeenshire - had delayed its expansion.

He suggested the objections were cynically motivated by a desire to “prevent” customers from switching to Aldi.

Mr Hurley told the Telegraph: “We're receiving more objections from our competition than we used to.

“If you look at the price gap between Aldi and the more-expensive traditional supermarkets, it's been very consistent for years - and I guess one of the ways to try to prevent customers from taking advantage of that is to slow down or stop openings.”

In October 2018, Mr Hurley set a target of Aldi growing to 1,200 stores across the UK by 2025. At the time, the retailer had 775 branches.

Behind schedule

The goal required Aldi to open 60 new supermarkets a year on average. The company is currently running behind schedule, with Aldi on course to open 40 locations this year.

Its 1,000th UK branch will open in the next few weeks.

Mr Hurley admitted the discounter may not succeed in opening 200 extra stores within the next two years after progress was “slowed by events outside of our control”.

Figures compiled by the Grocery Gazette in December suggested that just under 40 Aldi stores had either been blocked or were on hold because of rivals logging objections or legal challenges.

But one north-east battle is far from over.

Macduff plans

Aldi has vowed to keep pushing for an outlet in Macduff, despite seeing its plans shot down by Tesco lawyers.

Tesco - which has a store nearby in Banff - took Aberdeenshire Council to court for approving the plans, with a judge quashing the permission granted.

Now it has emerged that the council opted to retreat from the courtroom battle. This meant that Tesco's argument was passed without question.

A council spokesman said it had been decided it would not be "commercially viable" to fight the case.

But Aldi is reviewing the decision after being left "extremely disappointed" by the legal blow.

An Aldi spokesman confirmed that the chain still wants to open in Macduff.

Fully committed

He said: 'We remain fully committed to opening a new store in Macduff and will provide an update on our future plans shortly."

That could mean a second planning application is submitted, with officials this time making sure the process is watertight.

Residents in Macduff and neighbouring Banff have long complained about the lack of supermarkets in the area.

But, elsewhere in Britain, some councils have batted off planning complaints from Aldi's rivals. One councillor on Knowsley Council’s Planning Committee said Tesco had “a little bit of a cheek” to log an objection.

Tesco maintains that it does not object to the vast majority of planning applications submitted by its competitors, and only objects where there are material planning considerations, not because of a potential loss of trade.

Mr Hurley said: “We roll with it, because it will slow us down, but it won’t stop us. We’re going to keep opening stores, and we will bring a store within easy reach of every customer in the UK no matter what.”


He said Aldi would be “relentless” in finding new locations.

“No frills” supermarket Aldi opened its first branch in the UK in 1990, but has grown rapidly over the last few years as the cost-of-living crisis has prompted more shoppers to seek out value.

The German supermarket overtook Morrisons to become Britain’s fourth largest supermarket last year and now accounts for almost 10% of the market.

Its success has prompted a rearguard action from established supermarkets as they fight to keep hold of customers. Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s have committed to price matching Aldi on certain items.

Mr Hurley said planning complaints were part of a wider pushback by rivals against the discounter.

As well as objections from rivals, Mr Hurley said Aldi’s new openings were being slowed down by planning red tape and shortages of building materials.

Data from Which suggests that the price of an average basket of 43 items at Aldi costs £74.81, whereas it hovers around £85 at Tesco and Sainsbury’s. At Morrisons, it stands at around £89, while it is more than £95 at Waitrose.

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