A new Aldi supermarket opens today in the Brussels municipality of Ixelles, the first of at least six new branches the German budget chain plans to open in and around Brussels. Four will be brand-new shops, two will be the conversion of an existing outlet. The six shops will create 60 new jobs.
The stores will appear in Braine-l'Alleud, Schaerbeek, Grimbergen, Evere and Uccle by the end of 2024. In total, Aldi will invest €35 million in its expansion in Brussels. According to Aldi Belgium's Real Estate Director, Michele Belleflamme, the chain does not plan to stop with the six announced this week.
Aldi is by no means new to the capital, with 22 existing supermarkets operating in Brussels. This new project has more to do with the fact that Aldi is abandoning its idea to only have large shops with huge parking spaces. The usual store is 1,050 square metres, whereas these new stores will be 600 to 800 square metres.
Smaller and smarter
"We can open smaller shops in Brussels because the needs there are different from elsewhere in the country," Belleflamme said. "Many Brussels residents go shopping on foot or by public transport. So we will still offer parking spaces at our shops, but not as many as our classic shops." The small shops will sell exactly the same products as larger shops and at the same price.
By opting for smaller shops, Aldi has more choices as large plots of land are a rare find in the city. However, this means the chain has to be smarter with its use of space. It, therefore, plans to embed its new branches in buildings with space for a shop below and flats or student flats above.
Aldi is not the first chain to set its sights on Brussels. In the past five years, competitor Lidl opened shops in Schaerbeek, Anderlecht, Molenbeek and Evere, among others.
Last summer, Colruyt also announced that it wants to open new shops in Brussels. The group wants to reduce its gap with Carrefour and Delhaize, which have dozens of large shops and small city shops there.