(Author : Simon Evans)
Discount supermarket chain Aldi is accelerating a trial of a more modern prototype store as it fine-tunes its format and store interiors for the first time in the 14 years since the German retailer arrived in Australia.

Aldi trials new store format for Australian market

After testing four stores in the marketplace for the past six months, as part of a modernisation of the brand, Aldi is about to roll out another four stores with the new format. But Aldi executives say it will be some time before final decisions are made about whether to bring the new formats right through the wider Aldi network, which now sits at 382 stores on the eastern seaboard, producing annual revenues of $6 billion-plus. The company is also being careful about future timelines for any substantial rollout. Initial feedback from its customer base raised concerns that the brighter and more modern interiors brought an automatic assumption that prices would have to rise.

New design and graphics

But executives say that won’t be the case. An Aldi store in the outer western Sydney suburb of McGraths Hill is one of the prototypes which has already been running for several months with the new format. It features large silver upright freezer cabinets, fresh food displayed at the front of the store instead of at the rear, large amounts of light wood panelling in-store, and fresh new graphics. Aldi executives led a tour of the store on Tuesday, and revealed that an extra four stores would be part of the next phase of the trial which has been dubbed internally “Project Fresh”.

“The market is modernising and saying we need to be more contemporary,” an Aldi spokesman said.  But Aldi has emphasised there won’t be any increase in prices and the firm will continue with its value proposition.

Careful approach

The spokesman said there is no definite time frame for making a decision on whether the new formats will be adopted across the Aldi network. “We’re not putting a timeline on it yet.”  Aldi says it will only go ahead if it is revenue neutral and there are no extra costs built into the project. “We have to do this the Aldi way. It’s a slow burn for us.” Aldi is preparing to open its first stores in South Australia in either February or March 2016, and will then head to Western Australia from mid-2016. The new formats are part of a refresh of the brand as it tries to keep the momentum going against much larger rivals Coles and Woolworths. Aldi opened its first store in Australia in 2001.

Source : www.smh.com.au

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