Market Loop - 🎽Supermarket wars

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11th January 2022

Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning  Two months after moving to a 4 day work week with no pay cut, the UK’s first banking app Atom Bank reported that it’s seen a 500% increase in job applications. A survey of staff also showed they are feeling less stressed, with 86% now looking forward to going to work each day, up from an already impressive 77%.
Today's stories
  • Supermarket wars - Aldi makes price promise amid rising inflation
  • Mexican fever – Tortilla wraps up bumper year
Aldi makes price promise amid rising inflation

What’s going on?
Aldi’s pledged to be the UK’s cheapest supermarket this year despite soaring food prices. The announcement came as the country’s fifth biggest grocer reported that December sales edged up 0.4% compared to the previous year and were 8.1% higher than 2019.

Why is this important?
Aldi’s the first supermarket to release Christmas trading numbers in what’s set to be a busy week of retailer results. The privately-owned German chain said it added 500k customers to record its best ever festive period.

On the surface a 0.4% increase in December 2021 revenue may not seem that impressive but it’s a strong performance given that in 2020 the UK was in lockdown with restaurants and cafes closed, boosting supermarket sales higher than normal.

Looking ahead to 2022 Aldi says it’s committed to being the cheapest supermarket as household budgets come under pressure from decade-high rates of inflation. 

In September Aldi announced it plans to open 100 stores and create 2,000 jobs with a £1.3bn investment. This would take its UK footprint to more than 1,000 locations. 

Aldi and its low-cost rival Lidl have taken market share from the big 4 supermarkets of Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons in recent years. Aldi is now bigger than the likes of Co-op and Waitrose.

Aldi’s thrown down the gauntlet to competitors to be the cheapest supermarket. The pricing war that is sure to follow will be good for consumers but if cost inflation isn’t passed on to customers then supermarket profits will take the hit.
Tortilla wraps up bumper year 

The UK’s largest Mexican restaurant chain reported a 79% increase in revenue over the past 12 months to £48.1m, a 36% rise on pre-pandemic levels.

Tortilla was helped by the opening of 9 new locations but it was the performance of its no-sit kitchens that really boosted numbers. These offer click-and-collect and delivery services, the former of which usurps the need for delivery apps, which usually charge a restaurant up to 25% of an order’s value.

The kitchens flourished during lockdowns as they could keep doors open and softened the blow of the costly store closures.

Encouragingly the company said that trading had remained 'very positive' despite the spread of the Omicron variant, which has kept many consumers off the high street. 

Tortilla was founded in 2007 by an American missing Mexican cuisine in London, it now has 64 outlets around the worldwide.

It listed on the London stock market last October raising £5m to accelerate growth plans which include opening 45 more stores in the next five years.
Stat of the day

Due to the growing use of screens half of the world's population is expected to be short-sighted by 2050, more than a doubling of the rate from 2000
Other stories to keep you in the loop
  • Richest 1% of UK households are worth at least £3.6m each
  • Brexit changes will add to soaring costs in 2022, warn UK manufacturers
  • Rolls-Royce has biggest selling year in 117-year history
  • Ikea cuts sick pay for unvaccinated UK staff who are forced to self-isolate
  • Wilko plans 15 store closures
  • Philip Green to receive £2.5m in payouts from Topshop store
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