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U.K.’s Main Grocers All Lose Share for First Time as Aldi Surges

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- All of the U.K.’s four big food retailers lost market share for the first time since records began in the last three months, emphasizing the shift toward discounters Aldi and Lidl, and the upscale Waitrose chain.

Industry leader Tesco Plc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda, J Sainsbury Plc and William Morrison Supermarkets Plc saw their combined share of supermarket spending drop to 75.3 percent in the 12 weeks ended Nov. 11 from 76.7 percent a year earlier, according to figures today from researcher Kantar Worldpanel.

The grocers are struggling to defend their share as Britons seek cheaper prices and place higher value on food provenance. Almost a third of households have shopped in Aldi in the past three months, while Waitrose has seen its share increase continuously since the middle of 2009, Kantar said.

The big four grocers hadn’t shown a simultaneous decline in market share since Kantar started compiling data under the current methodology in 2003, director Edward Garner said. Tesco’s share fell to 29.8 percent from 30.5 percent a year earlier, Asda’s to 17.2 percent from 17.6 percent, and Morrison to 11.5 percent from 11.7 percent. Sainsbury’s drop to 16.8 percent from 16.9 percent was the first since January.

Aldi’s share of spending rose to 3.9 percent from 3 percent a year earlier, Kantar said. The German budget retailer’s U.K. sales surged 31 percent in the period surveyed, more than 10 times Sainsbury’s 2.6 percent growth, which was the strongest of the big four.

Lidl’s market share rose to 3 percent from 2.7 percent and Waitrose’s to 4.8 percent from 4.6 percent, Kantar said.

Shoppers will be seeking both luxury and lower prices during the coming Christmas holiday, Garner said.

In the shorter four-week period through Nov. 10, Morrison was the only one of the big four to gain share, Citigroup Inc. analyst Pradeep Pratti said in a note, citing Kantar Worldpanel data that isn’t publicly available.

Morrison’s share rose to 11.7 percent from 11.5 percent, the third straight increase, according to the note.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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