Budget supermarket Aldi has reported record sales in the UK and Ireland despite a dip in profits amid a fierce price war in the sector.
Annual sales rose 13.5% to £8.7bn in 2016, but operating profit fell by 17% to £211.3m as the firm cut prices.
It also spent £450m opening new stores and improving its distribution centres, and plans to invest a further £459m during this year.
The German discount supermarket said like-for-like sales were “strongly positive” during 2016 and have “accelerated” in 2017.
It said it had attracted more than one million new customers in the past year and planned to open a further 70 new stores in 2018 as part of a drive to launch 1,000 outlets by 2022.
UK and Ireland chief executive Matthew Barnes said: “The fact that more and more customers walk through our doors every day of the week gives us the confidence to carry on investing – in people, jobs, stores and our distribution network – and continues to fuel our growth right across the UK.”
Aldi, which has 726 stores and employs 29,000 UK staff, is now Britain’s fifth biggest supermarket chain, according to industry data from Kantar Worldpanel.
It currently holds a 6.9% share of the industry.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons still lead the way but the combined share of the “big four” has now slipped below 70%, down from more than 76% five years ago.