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Aldi & Lidl Regional Strategy: Adapting to The Local Market

Ronny Gottschlich
Former CEO, Lidl UK

Learning outcomes

  • How Aldi and Lidl adapt their competitive tactics to local market conditions
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Executive Bio

Ronny Gottschlich

Former CEO, Lidl UK

Ronny spent most of his career with a discount grocery food retailer Lidl, where he worked in various positions from 2000 to 2016. This culminated in the role of CEO for Lidl’s UK business from 2010 to 2016. Lidi’s UK business grew revenue from GBP 2.5bn to over GBP 5bn under Ronny’s leadership, doubling its market share in under five years. He now runs his own retail consultancy business Heunadel. Read more

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Interview Transcript

How much of a factor is adapting the model on a local level? You mentioned, a bit earlier that, as a discounter’s presence matures, in a particular country, that the share of local foods might increase and there’s less of a reliance on the international supply chain. Are there any format changes by country? Are there any further ways in which presence is adapted, on a local level?

Well, the one thing I’ve seen and, in particular, for the time I was responsible for the UK, is the that the discounters had to learn, in some countries, some tough lessons in knowing where they needed to retreat Lidl and Aldi, for example in Greece. Where they were just trying to make a German offering for some Greek or Norwegian customers. They learned that they have to adapt their offering, to what the British customers, what the Swedish customers want. That’s down to a national level. With that, the buying side has shifted from about 70% being bought internationally, at the time, to nowadays, maybe only 30% or 40% being sourced internationally.

That’s different, again, country by country, but you would know that the British customer is quite demanding on British produce etc. You would still source pasta from where it’s meant to originate from – Italy – but you would focus more and more, to make sure that everything the customer can taste, can feel, can see and eat, that the customer gets the feeling of Britishness, in that instance But still have, what I always call, the German engine, the procedures, etc. running silently in the background and making sure the cost savings are there.

I believe that offering will be continued to be driven into the countries. That is actually something that customers are demanding more and more, these days, down to a regional and local level. In the instance of Lidl UK, we had Aberdeen strawberries on offer. I think Aberdeen strawberries might only grow for one and a half weeks a year, but we had to have them available, for our customers. This is a way that, even the discounters, needed to go and if the products are selling, then of course, the discounters are also willing to live with the customer’s will.

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