Aldi, Lidl offer hard discounts

The demand for products from discount supermarkets is growing steadily in Greece, as households trim food expenses to get through the crisis but the sector trails the market share held in other European countries. German retailers, such as Aldi and Lidl, known as hard discounters due to their limited product range and the predominance of low price labels (or generic store brands), are expanding their networks in Greece. Aldi, which has been in Greece for less than a year, operates a 28-branch network and is expected to open another three stores by early October. Its main competitor, Lidl, operates a 190-branch network in Greece and is scheduled to open another store by the end of the month. The aggressive pricing policy shown by hard discounters, along with growing demand for generic labels, are seen as being the key reasons behind their success, according to industry experts. Research shows that one in five products bought by consumers in Greece is a generic label. Almost 80 percent of turnover from hard discounters comes from the sale of store-brand products. Hard discounters held 9.3 percent of the total retail food market in Greece in 2008, which has been valued at 13 billion euros, figures from research company Nielsen showed. In Germany, the sector controls 31 percent of the retail food market, while in Austria it stands at 28.3 percent. Europe-wide, Aldi opens an average of five stores per week, while Lidl opens the doors to eight outlets weekly.