During our recent to trip to London to speak at the annual Citi Retail Conference, we toured numerous UK retailers, including an Iceland store and Aldi store — both so-called “hard discounters.”
We found the whole retail scene in the UK to be presenting as if the Depression is upon us. Tesco, which we have thought of as a mainstream retailer — the largest in the country — seemed determined to transform itself into the bargain basement of Britain. Even carriage-trade retailers, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, were feuding over who offered better value.
As the trade gathers in Orlando, Aldi will be opening five new central Florida stores, which means the chain is on the verge of hitting the 1,000-store marker in the US.
Interestingly enough, this deep discounter has been talking up its compensation policy as it looks to attract employees:
The company said starting pay for cashiers is $10 an hour, and $20 an hour for assistant store managers. Starting pay for store managers is a salary of $65,000 a year.
The company offers health care insurance to employees who work 20 hours or more a week.
Tesco’s Fresh & Easy, whose journey to America we have been chronicling here, also promotes that it pays $10 an hour. Fresh & Easy has not promoted what it will pay managers, but we understand Aldi managers are far better paid.
We wonder if both Tesco and Wal-Mart — with its Marketside stores — didn’t make a mistake in not focusing their small-store concepts on a very clear value proposition such as Aldi.
Perhaps they didn’t think they could do it any better?