Lidl boosts online ambition in Europe

 Lidl is said to be ramping up its online ambitions internationally after launching fresh online groceries in its native Germany – but there are no signs of a UK wine site yet.

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German trade magazine Manager Magazin has reported that the German discounter is to start trialing click and collect on fresh fruit and grocery in Hamburg from December, following a trial by parent group Kaufland this month.

The move marks a step up in is online offering, it says, which has been running in Gemany since 2009 and already offers wine to German customers. In March this year the discounter launched online wine sales in Belgium, following an similar launch in Netherlands in 2014 – although wine is no longer advertised on the Netherlands site.

The German publication claimed parent company The Schwarz Group Kaufland is investing  “a three digit million figure” to strengthen its online business and that this was part of a wider global digital strategy.

Lidl’s UK BWS team has consistently denied being on the brink of launching a wine site in the UK – but confirmed more than a year ago it had not ruled out the move completely.

Speaking to the drinks business in July 2015, former UK head of beer, wine and spirits, Ben Hulme – who now heads up the international wine operation in Germany – said he had been pushing the idea in the UK and confirmed the company was considering such a move, but that a decision was yet to be made.

“It is still a question mark,” he expanded in a conversation with db a few months later, in October, shortly after rival discounter Aldi had announced it was to roll out a wines-by-the-case site in January 2016.

“Our success with the Wine Cellar range has been through bricks and mortar and we’re aware that in store you can bring that idea across fully, with the crates and brochures for people to pick up. But equally we’re aware of online and we’re looking at it, but with no immediate plans of an announcement.

“Hypothetically, if we ever did do it, it would be done properly with a lot of thought behind it, not as a knee jerk reaction to what the rest of the market is doing,” he said.

A spokesman from Lidl’s BWS team today said: “We have no plans to introduce online shopping at the moment but, as ever, we continue to monitor any business activity that could be of potential interest to our customers.”

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