Soaring central city population growth from Melbourne’s apartment boom has prompted Aldi to join a growing list of retailers looking for new CBD store spaces.

The discount German-owned supermarket chain has actively been seeking a new site in the southern quarter of the CBD to complement its sole city outlet at 501 Swanston Street.

Aldi has joined a push by Coles, Woolworths, IGA, EzyMart and 7 Eleven towards establishing smaller-format outlets in prime CBD locations to cater for office-block-conversion dwellers living in the central city.

The chain has a “global policy” of not talking to the media but industry insiders say several options have been canvassed, including space in Elizabeth and Collins streets.

Market speculation has also linked the notoriously tight-lipped retailer to Central Equity’s forthcoming Lonsdale Street development in the city’s west end, however, a source close to the developer said there had been no discussions with the retailer.

Aldi has an aggressive Australia-wide expansion plan that includes a target of at least 200 stores in Victoria. It currently has a total of 367 on Australia’s eastern seaboard.

Aldi’s Dandenong store manager Damien Scheidel told Inside Retail in a rare interview that recent planning reforms would enable Aldi to open seven stores in Victoria this year.

“These will be in Cheltenham, Mentone, Dromana, Springvale, Traralgon, Altona North, Epsom Village, and will add 105 people to Aldi’s current Victorian workforce of over 2300,” Mr Scheidel said. The Cheltenham store will employ 15 people, he said.

Aldi confirmed that with the opening this week of its Reservoir supermarket, total store numbers in Victoria will reach 123.

“Pending planning permissions, we have a number of other stores on the horizon, including Dromana, Springvale, Traralgon and Epsom Village,” a spokesperson said.

The discount supermarket chain confirmed last year it will invest $700 million to build two distribution centres and as many as 120 stores across South Australian and Western Australia.

Aldi has been upsizing the footprint of its new outlets from 1400 to 1700 square metres.

Earlier, smaller format, stores did not give sufficient space for liquor or other specialist retailing.

The chain has also boosted spending on traditional advertising – to $29 million in the year to January. By comparison, Coles spends $68 million and Woolworths $87 million.

Extracted in full from Sydney Morning Herald.

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