December 2020

A Trickle for a Treat Two days before hallowe’en and there was no razzmatazz at the 8 a.m. opening of Aldi’s new Ruthin store, reports Peter Daniels October 29th and if anyone was expecting to arrive at 7.55 a.m. and be the very first customer within our new Aldi store, they’d be disappointed. And no marching bands, no balloon arch, no local junior football team, no DJ compere, no minor celeb. Especially no held-back queue or communal new year’s eve-style countdown. Contrast this with November 2017’s Aldi fanfare in Denbigh and you realise that Management decided the wisest course was to do things quietly. Opening in the teeth of a fire break lockdown would have its challenges. Queues of expectant and hungry shoppers were probably unwise. So, instead, as early at 7.30 a.m. we witnessed a trickle for a treat rather than a tumult for a taste—and all with the fever of losing supporters at the end of a cup final. Mind you, by mid-morning, the car park was much livelier, with a fuller car park but still about 70 per cent of the total cars parked at the same time at Tesco. Things will shake out in time. A fortnight later and cars at Aldi had reduced. The journey to October 29th began in May 2019 with a consultation at Llanfwrog Community Centre. There, we wondered why Aldi would ever want to build Ruthin’s third supermarket in a town of barely 6,000 (remember the days when we had a solitary Kwik Save?). It turns out that Aldi expected Ruthin’s store to do better than Denbigh’s, in spite of a larger population eight miles farther north. Something to do with the socio-economics of Ruthin, they said. Aldi had moved into the middle ground, they said. As if to emphasise this point, 8 a.m. saw a local 11-month-old Porsche Macan SUV turn up in the car park while its owner went to shop. Such cars retail for a minimum of £47,000. Truly a sign of Aldi's middle class appeal perhaps, chasing the beer battered fish, the Parma ham, the fresh pesto, the coconut oil, the gingerbread mulled wine, the houmous, the alcohol-infused mince pies and the damson plum & pink gin pudding. Work on site commenced immediately before the March 2020 lockdown and it continued throughout. There was some minor criticism in March that Aldi had not halted (but construction was exempt). Of those who expressed an opinion either way, most were keen to see Aldi completed. Aldi themselves pointed out that they would be providing an essential service (but so was the Co-op & Tesco). Seven months later, we see that realised. There were concerns, too, that the site was too far from town but few seemed bothered that it was on green fields. The site was in the LDP, after all. Contrast this with Clwyd Alyn’s development to the side of Glasdir, where some locals considered building on the greensward anathema. If there were no held-back queues athirst for their first Aldi fix, there to witness the event were Aldi’s managers. I spotted six black company Audi A4 cars. Four wore 67-plates; one was an 18-plate; and another sported a 19-plate. A sprinkling of black Audis was also present during the lead up to the day, with managers no doubt fussing and bustling over last minute details. Today’s clutch of inky flivvers weren’t the usual shiny examples you tend to see, thanks to the rain that tarnishes black cars quickly. Aldi managers must spend much of their time cleaning and waxing their carriages. Black is such an unforgiving colour. Meanwhile, in a renewed push for your loyalty, Tesco continues to promote Clubcard prices that can see as much as a third off. They’ve made cosmetic improvements especially to the car park. Within, Tesco is also promising to match Aldi’s prices. The two supermarkets are certainly very different and no one can claim that Aldi can substitute entirely for Tesco but it will make a dent. When the novelty of a brand new Aldi wears off, when Aldi becomes second nature, when the activity subsides and when the black Audis have forsaken Ruthin for the next store launch, there’s no doubt for the first time Tesco will still have a run for its money.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest
The 7.55 a.m. trickle on October 29th. By mid- morning, the car park was much fuller