Thursday, 29 November 2012


I remember hearing about a woman who used to take her neighbour shopping in her car. The neighbour liked to buy some of her weekly shop from one of the bargain supermarkets, but driver (a bit of a snob) informed everyone that she didn't even get out of the car.... The thought of being seen shopping in a cheap supermarket put her off.

I remember thinking that it was a shame to be so strung up on image, because the quality of the products in both Lidl and Aldi is pretty high.

Not being the kind that worries about being seen poking around in Oxfam or Save the Children (and having laid my hands on some fine brand names at a fraction of the cost of their new price, who can blame me), I've never been shy about shopping in the German supermarkets.

But until recently I wondered how they managed to make any profit. They were nearly always more or less empty, and even on a Saturday morning there was never a crush in the small car parks.

Now things are different, I suspect as a result of the 'neverendession' (to paraphrase one of the very few genuinely funny things that David Cameron has even said.

The car parks are full; the tills are all open and goods, far cheaper than the main British/American supermarkets are selling, are flying off the shelves.

Indeed according to this Yahoo article Aldi made £56.8 million in profit last year, having recorded a loss the previous year. They opened 29 new stores and plan to continue opening new ones in the coming year, creating over 4,000 new jobs (welcome, albeit most of them will probably be part time).

Lidl and Aldi concentrate on selling their own brands to the almost total exclusion of big brand names. This means no premium paid to the big names, and the savings can be passed on to the customer. In the other supermarkets only around 50% of their products are own brand.

Frequently supermarket own brands are of much poorer quality (some custard I bought at Asda was so inedible it had to be thrown out). Aldi and Lidl's brands in contrast are of very high quality. Indeed, recently a taste test organised by "Good Housekeeping" magazine found that Aldi's Christmas Pudding was the second best brand behind Waitrose. Fortnum & Mason came 29th!! And Aldi's pudding cost £7.99, whereas Fortnum's was around £29.00.

And a study by Grocer magazine found that on a shopping basket of 33 items Aldi was 16% cheaper than Asda, 20% cheaper than Tesco and 40% cheaper than Waitrose! And there is not a lot of difference in price between Aldi and Lidl.

Judging by the readers'  comments on the Yahoo article, Aldi's rise in the ranks is due in part to price, but also to the quality of service you can expect. Tesco's (the worst of all the UK chains, in my opinion), Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Waitrose, have all been working hard to try to maintain their market share in the straitened economic times. 

It seems they have no room for slacking.

On rather a different topic I see from comments at Wings, and an article by Rod at Auld Acquaintance that there has been a debate in London about Scottish Independence, and that 336 - 5 found that Scotland would be better off in the union. 

Now, somewhere between 30 and 40% of the population wants independence, and around 20-25% is undecided, so it occurs to me that the presentation of Scots' views in the English parliament is very unrepresentative.

I understand that a further proposal put by the SNP that Scotland would enjoy a special relationship with the UK, rather like that enjoyed by Canada, Australia and New Zealand, was defeated by a similar number.

So it appears that the English (and the Welsh and Irish) don't really like us. If we go they will not be friendly towards us. But they want us to stay. 


I can only conclude that that is because, according to them the North Sea has the potential to be the World's Global Energy hub. 

In other words they want our money.

Incidentally the 5 were the SNP members in the Commons chamber. (According to Rod, Stewart Hosie was not there due to illness. Get well soon, Stewart. You will surely be missed in London.) 

I was surprised not to have the support of the Welsh Nationalists.


  1. It's not just in Scotland that Lidl and Aldi are becoming more popular. Here in the wealthy Home Counties they are also becoming the supermarkets of choice.

    My wife and daughters and their shopping obsessed friends realised some time ago that the quality of basic necessities (bread, bacon, baked beans, etc.) was as good or better than the more in your face outlets.

    (I only buy wine and beer from supermarkets and was sceptical of their claims but when I was forced to accompany them on one of their sprees was pleasantly surprised by the quality and value of these products too)

  2. P.S.

    Posted this link to Hansard about the "Save the Remnants of the Empire (Scotland)" debate on another thread. Great reading if you like a laugh.

    My MP voted against the amendment. I shall ask him for his reasons.

  3. I'd expect better of Plaid actually. Any word as to why they didn't support Scotland?

  4. I was also disappointed at lack of Plaid support. As for the rest the quote "Ha ha ha yer awfie funny. ye don't like me but you want my money" comes to mind. Someone used this on newsnet - I looked it up on google but couldn't find the original. Anyway it sums up Ruk and "Scottish" labour attitude to their cash cow neighbour

  5. Barney: Happy to hear these supermarkets are doing well in the more affluent parts of the union. I've noticed that there are more higher end cars in the car park here, suggesting that the need, or desire, to buy cheaper may have spread up a little way.

    Once it becomes known that the quality is as good, or as you say, better, than the UK supermarkets, I'm pretty sure that the big 4 will have to take further steps to win back customers. In Tesco's case I really hope that will involve telling the staff that the customer is a relatively important person in the whole equation.

    What's the booze like there btw? I'm not much of a drinker and I don't buy much, but if the prices are better and the quality of the drink is good, I don't see any reason not too.

    I did notice a really interesting range of ales and beers in Aldi recently. I might try some.

  6. PS Barney... The link only brings up the Hansard page!

  7. Not heard anything Anon. I hoped hat someone here might know.

    I will try to find out.

  8. Well, North Easter, that true, along with the desperate desire for the Scottish MPs to retain their gravy train reservations leading to the final destination of a seat in the politicians old folks' home.

    Once upon a time only senior politicians went to the Lords... PMs, Foreign Secretaries, maybe Home Secretaries.

    But I remember seeing the list of politicians a few years ago, and there were people I'd never heard of, under secretaries at the Welsh Department...

    No wonder it's packed to the gunwales with pensioners.

  9. Thing is guys do we actually know that Plaid Cymru ACTUALLY voted. Remember there were only 334 votes FOR the first motion and only 321 AGAINST the second (SNP) motion. This still leaves probably around another 300 or so MP's who were either not present or abstained from voting.

    Anyone wanting to know who the Scottish MP's were who voted for the first vote and against the second can see the list here. I've copied off a post by Keith over on Wings.

    01 Bain, William (Glasgow North East) Labour
    02 Begg, Anne (Aberdeen South) Labour
    03 Brown, Gordon (Kirkaldy & Cowdenbeath) Labour
    04 Brown, Russell (Dumfries & Galloway) Labour
    05 Carmichael, Alistair (Orkney & Shetland) Liberal Democrat
    06 Clark, Katy (North Ayrshire & Arran) Labour
    07 Clarke, Tom (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) Labour
    08 Curran, Margaret (Glasgow East) Labour
    09 Darling, Alistair (Edinburgh South West) Labour
    10 Docherty, Thomas (Dunfermline & West Fife) Labour
    11 Donohoe, Brian (Central Ayrshire) Labour
    12 Doran, Frank (Aberdeen North) Labour
    13 Gilmore, Sheila (Edinburgh East) Labour
    14 Greatrex, Tom (Rutherglen & Hamilton West) Labour
    15 Hamilton, David (Midlothian) Labour
    16 Harris, Tom (Glasgow South) Labour
    17 Hood, Jim (Lanark & Hamilton East) Labour
    18 Joyce, Eric (Falkirk) Drunken Bampot
    19 Lazarowicz, Mark (Edinburgh North & Leith) Labour
    20 McClymont, Gregg (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East) Labour
    21 McGovern, Jim (Dundee West) Labour
    22 McKechin, Ann (Glasgow North) Labour
    23 Mundell, David (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale) Conservative
    24 Murray, Ian (Edinburgh South) Labour
    25 Nash, Pamela (Airdrie & Shotts) Labour
    26 Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute) Liberal Democrat
    27 Robertson, John (Glasgow North West) Labour
    28 Roy, Frank (Morthwell & Wishaw) Labour
    29 Roy, Lindsay (Glenrothes) Labour
    30 Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow Central) Labour
    31 Smith, Robert (West aberdeenshire & Kincardine) Liberal Democrat
    32 Thurso, John (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) Liberal Democrat

    The fact that there are only 32 "individuals" on the list would suggest to me that not every one was present at the vote last night. 332 + 5 only gives us 37 Scottish MP's. If I remember correctly there are a total of 59 Scottish MP's in Westminster. Needless to say my turncoat MP is amongst the 32 oh joy of joys! :(

  10. It's been a year since the esteemed Gordon had anything to say in the commons,will still be raking it in though

    There has been nothing that I've bought in Aldis that I would not buy again or recommend.I like that Scottish goods are clearly marked as such Same in Lidl

  11. And where was my MP? Come on Spud/Skeletor what could possibly be more important than telling us we're too wee, too poor, too stupid? And then there's the defence jobs including the one you are most interested in - your own!

  12. Gordon's ALIVE! :D

    Guess he had no important appointments then where he was going to tell the high and mighty how he saved the world then?

  13. Anon

    Your mp must have been hiding under the seats along with mine

  14. No, Arbroath; maybe they weren't there, like so many others it seems.

    You know Scottish MPs don't really have much to do. Most domestic matters are dealt with in Edinburgh. So you'd think on the occasions that they are being asked to take part in a debate about their own country, they might have the good grace to turn up.

    To be fair, I suppose some of them might have abstained, not wishing to vote against their party whips...

  15. I forgot to say thanks for the list, Arbroath.

  16. Oh Gordon has far more important matters on his mind than working in Westminster, fairfor. He'll be flogging his latest book in America, I bet. I've heard the sales have reached double figures now.

  17. Spud not there, Anon... ?

    I wonder what he was up to?

    Nothing of consequence I'll warrant.

  18. Ohhhhh sorry Arbroath. He WAS there. I missed his name.

    What on earth was he doing there?

  19. Or, fairfor, they could have been in the subsidied bar...?

  20. Yeah! Aldi thats where Alex Salmond does most of his shoplifting ......I know the security guard well he escorted him him off the site...twice and he swapped some price tickets on some lamb joints 25quid each for toffe apples prices 25p and got caught at the self scan...out he went

  21. I hear that Labour are going to charge the old for the panic alarms they have in their own homes to help the council's arms length companies finances!

    Westminster has been stealing our wealth for 300 years.

  22. Tris I hear Murphy has been seen around Portsmouth a lot of the time recently. Apparently he is looking for a "safe" seat in the 2015 Westminster GE. :lol:

  23. tris -

    Re Hansard link, this should work -

    Lidl/Aldi - the wine, beer and ale ranges are not much different from their competitors, i.e. same quality, sometimes better, sometimes not, but more reasonably priced. (I reckon some of the special offers, on reasonable quality stuff, could fall foul of minimum pricing!)

    I have some very comfortably off neighbours who stock up their Range Rovers and Mercs there. Their philosophy is - if you are going to drink champagne, you might as well drink it as cheaply as possible.

  24. Plaid Cymru -

    Jonathan Edwards voted for the amendment and Hywel Williams acted as a teller (as did Pete Wishart). Tellers do not vote. Elfyn Llwyd was presumably absent.

  25. Hmmmm... I wonder what he did with the money we gave him to get the lamb for the St Andrew's Day dinner...

    Probably bought a few curries...

    Oh well, as Willie Rennie would say...

    Whit can ye dae?

  26. Surprise surprise. So what about the old, CH, who cannot afford to pay for the alarms?

    Good article from Morag there.

  27. LOL Arbroath. I hope he gets one. The alternative might be that he come back here and remove the Lamont woman from her post. He's every bit as useless as she is.

  28. Barney. I'm inclined to agree with the champagne philosophy. Actually I'm very partial to champagne...

    Thanks for the research on the voting. Excellent stuff.

    And thanks for the link... I'm off to read that now.

  29. "Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate, which is extremely important for the future of the United Kingdom. Does she not agree that there is also an argument in favour of allowing the people of England to have their say on the Scottish devolution question and on independence? If Scotland became an independent nation that would have a real effect on the people of Wiltshire as well as the people of Scotland.

    29 Nov 2012 : Column 406

    Mrs Laing: My hon. Friend is, of course, absolutely correct. I have a great deal of sympathy for his point, but I accept that agreement has been entered into that the terms of the referendum have been broadly decided, although they have yet to be finally decided in the Scottish Parliament. I accept that the Scottish Parliament will decide on the franchise for the referendum and that, in doing so, it is unlikely to decide that people throughout the entire United Kingdom should have a vote in the referendum, but although those people will not have a vote in the referendum, they must have a voice in the debate. That will be provided in this Parliament and throughout all parts of the United Kingdom."

    Sooooo.... what they are saying is that if the UK or England decides to withdraw from the European Union, as it will affect the lives of the people of Estonia and Bulgaria, Malta and France, they should all be allowed to vote on it. Am I right?

    What complete bol... rubbish.

  30. Argh... what utter ignorance and lies these people talk.


  31. The Scorpion and the Frog

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
    scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
    frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion
    says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

    The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
    the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
    paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
    but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

    Replies the
    scorpion/Unionist "Its my nature...

  32. As I live in France, I also have a choice of French basics supermarkets.

    Aldi is present in France but not in my area.

    Lidl and Leader Price (French) are the two here.

    Leader Price is rubbish in fruit and veg as they seem to be pretty close to their sell-by dates, although fresh pack veggies do not have that date on their labels.

    Canned and bottled veggies are good quality and there household stuff is way below the price of branded versions, and as good.

    I am not a fan of the prepacked meats although they are now doing lines of "local" meats which are better and again way below the price of major supermarkets' own or "local" brands.

    Where they come up trumps is on the wine shelves. They target smaller marks, less prestigious versions but equally as good and much, much cheaper. The problem with this is that they do not always have the same thing on sale the following week.

    Incidentally, wrt Champagne, there are better sparkling wine available at a quarter of the price.

    One, if you can find it in the UK, is Cremant D'Alsasce. It is made from the same grapa varieties as Champagne form soil similar to Champagne. €5 for a bottle which beats £25 Champagne would be a great find in Freuchie. Henri Peter is the mark and they do a Rosé version as well--remember Champagne is made based on a red grape.

    Sorry it is VFrench

    LIDL is excellent with packaged meats and do frozen Brazilian beef steaks. Their wine are keich though with good German beers to balance that.

    LIDL also have weird things at odd times. A few years ago I bought an electric microscope for €100 which allowed me to take digital photographs of stuff for my business.

    Finally back to Champagne. If you can't get Henri Peter just but Lindaur sparkling wine from NZ.

    Like is too short for poor Champagne.

  33. Blimey! I turn my back for a few days and a blog's been changed to the Shopping Channel! Niko hasn't explained who is the frog and who is the scorpion although Murphy must be a strong candidate for the latter. I've been told, in the strictest confidence, that Mrs Niko takes him out to Harrods every week for his weekly ration of soor plooms.

  34. You get what you pay for is they saying?

    Well why pay an extra 20% on a product simply for packaging you plan on throwing out?

    I'm a kid from Glasgow, and I know - save the pennies, make the pound!

  35. Personally, when I can't make it to Harrods I shop from my John Lewis catalogue. Big news; Shop opening in my little village today save me a ten mile trip to do my shopping.

    Tris, how about a plug for "Butha Scalpaidh" - "Scalpay Shop" to you monoglots!

  36. Aldi and Lidl

    Mrs Niko wouldnt been seen dead in either they are for the poor people.
    drink that taste of stale tea and food that tastes of sawdust.

    anyways sainsbury 15% off for employees till jan 1st


    afraid I am persona non Grata as i was less than complementary to Alex Salmond and co...

    But as i said it is my nature

    Still better day tomorrow

  37. And the moral Niko is...

    Never trust a scorpion?

    Think I might have worked that out all by myself...?

    But thank you. It was a charming story...

  38. Thanks for all that info on the wines Wolfie. That Alsace stuff sounds not bad.

    I wasn't impressed with the only Lidl I was in in France, but it was in the centre of Paris (not far from the Town House), so maybe it wasn't really representative.

    One of the things I love about Lidl and Aldi is the weird stuff they have that has nothing to do with being a food retailer... Sometimes they have the weirdest stuff...

  39. It seems Dean, that we don't always get what we paid for. Supermarkets have been warned in the run up to the festive season, that they should try to tell the truth about their special offers which they seem not to have been doing...

  40. My granny would say: Mony a mickle maks a muckle... :)

  41. Thanks goodness John, for all these confidences that Mrs Niko shares with you at the Housie Housie.

    If Murphy is a scorpion, what does that make Mags?

  42. tris

    Umm the lamb joints being swapped wid the toffee apples reduction Tickets is true happened last week at sainsburys..............Mrs Niko wuz there

    might try it meself at tescos

  43. Briliant CH... Love these cartoons...

  44. The shop is early John. I thought it wasn't due to open until next spring?

    You can always share Wee Cathie's John Lewis brochure.

  45. Well obviously to the super rich, Niko, it's a bit 'infra dignitatus' to be seen around Lidl or Aldi.

    But why don't you sent the downstairs maid... That's what we do, and it would save Mrs Niko the bother.

  46. Ooooooooookkkkk Mr Brownlie. There's your mention. I hope it's the right shop now....

  47. That's a smart idea, Niko... but I think if I were on the till and it came up '1 toffee apple' 78p, I might notice if what I was putting through was a leg of lamb!!at £14,98!!

    Or maybe not...

  48. Plaid...Welsh speaking Labour...I wouldn't count on too much help from them tris!
    The formation of Plaid was to show the distaste for English dominated socialist Labour..I cannot see a serious 'nationalist' movement in any of them here, preferring to be a 'thorn in the side' of Westminster from whose teat they suck, rather than seeking any true independence...
    I have watched them for some time now and there is NO will to become independent and NO talent to make it so if there were, plus the fact that there are NO natural resources here to speak of save perhaps a racist negative towards the English...and that is just so much hot air as well considering that the tourist dollar/pound is the largest single income available...When England hurts economically Wales has a minor boom in tourism as people 'stay nearer home....

  49. LOL That's a good name for them Nom.

    I don't think most of them want independence. They only ever wanted more or less what they got...a parliament with law making powers.

    So, no, I probably shouldn't expect much from them.

  50. John... Did I get the right shop?