Crowds flock to new cut-price supermarket

GOONELLABAH residents Gavin Holten and Alicia Mills used to travel to Ballina every fortnight to do their shopping at Aldi.

Yesterday, the couple were among the first of many shoppers who checked out the new Aldi store in Lismore, and said they were pleased to now have the discount supermarket so close to home.

Mr Holten said he and his family saved an average of $70 a fortnight on groceries by shopping at Aldi.

“Add to that another $10 to $20 for the petrol we'll now be saving from not driving to Ballina,” he said.

When the German-owned supermarket giant opened its first store in Australia in 2001, it raised concern among some competitors.

The Australian Financial Review ran a story in 1999 which said: “Aldi is worrying supermarket retailers, especially in NSW. The main fear is that increased competition might spark a price war and hurt margins.”

However, the manager of Farmer Charlie's in Lismore, Daryl Smith, said sales were in fact up yesterday, adding that he expected that having an Aldi store in town would actually improve business.

“An Aldi here will bring more people into Lismore from the outskirt towns,” he said. “Having a bit of competition is good.”

However, not everyone in Lismore was happy about the Aldi development when it was announced.

Lismore resident Nick Chung told The Northern Star in August last year that he was 'disgusted' to be living next door to the site of a future Aldi supermarket.

But Mr Chung's complaints to Lismore City Council and a relocation request he forwarded to North Coast Housing proved futile.

Mr Holten, however, has been a long-term fan of the supermarket, saying that he first started shopping at Aldi in Sydney and kept going to the store when he moved to the Northern Rivers.

The variety of products at Aldi falls outside conventional supermarket purchases, with everything from motorbike boots, tile cutters and a kid's electric guitar on offer next to milk, bread and tomatoes.

Reservations about a German-owned supermarket taking profits from Australian producers, manufacturers and firms weren't held by Aldi convert Amanda Weir, of Lismore, who said she choose from the 'large range of quality Australian-owned products at Aldi'.

The company's website also claims: “100 per cent of our fresh meat, 98 per cent of our dairy products and 95 per cent of our fruit and vegetables in our Australian stores is sourced from Australian farmers”.

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