It’s may be a gastronomic heartland of the Midlands but even the Shropshire market town of Ludlow has been feeling the effects of the credit crunch.
So little surprise that German-owned discount food retailer Aldi has chosen it as the location for one of three new stores is to open in the Midlands this year.
The Warwickshire-based supermarket chain – which already has 65 stores employing about 600 staff in the region – will open new sites in Sheldon, Solihull; Maypole, in Birmingham, and Ludlow, in the autumn, creating nearly 200 jobs in the process.
Aldi’s decision to target the market town, famed for its eateries including Michelin-starred Mr Underhill’s at Dinham Weir, comes as more people turn to discount chains for their weekly shopping.
Other no-frills supermarkets like Iceland, Lidl and Morrison all reported double-digit growth in sales in the four weeks to June 15 – of 15.2 per cent, 14.9 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectively.
Lawrence Harvey, store operations director for Aldi, said: “People’s perception of us has changed significantly in the past four or five years, in the same way that Tesco went from being a cheap food retailer to attracting more discerning customers.
“While the credit crunch has meant gloom and doom for a lot of retailers, it’s actually benefitting us at the moment as our sales have risen by 20 per cent in the past month, with store footfall up by between 20 and 25 per cent.
“We’ve had five years growth which, to be honest, is unprecedented. We’ve not seen anything like it before. Ludlow is a gastronomic destination and it’s places like that where we want to attract a new type of customer.”
He added: “Inflation for the average person is about six per cent, but food inflation is nearer 20 per cent, so it’s affecting everybody in the same way regardless of income.
About 60 jobs will be created at the three new stores, with the remainder allocated across existing stores across the Midlands.