Let’s just ignore for a moment the fact that the future currently sees us moving away from gas-powered cars and imagine Germany’s cost-cutting grocer ALDI coming in to save the day at the fuel pump with gas prices that edge out the current competitors on the corner. The wild, or not so wild, idea is about to come to fruition as a test in ALDI’s home country as it plans to open up a dozen gas stations, with the plans of 300 more to follow, but if it proves to be a success, does that mean an American rollout could soon follow?
German newspaper Handelsblatt broke the story on Monday, citing an unnamed manager on the project who claims the company is investing around €120 million ($140 million) into the test and will start by partnering with Austria’s OMV to open the stations under the Avanti brand outside selected ALDI locations. ALDI and OMV already have a history of working together as the two have rolled out several stations across Austria to test the market.
While the idea of a grocery store selling gas is not a new concept in America, or even other parts of Europe, it hasn’t caught on in Germany yet. ALDI moving into the space could clearly change that, and that is worrying some established gas retailers in the country. Gas stations make very little off of gas sales and instead rely on people coming into the door to buy the sometimes overpriced convenience items and impulse buys. These in-store sales are estimated to account for 60-percent of profits. With ALDI already having an established brand for these items at a much lower price, it could spell trouble.
If the idea works out and ALDI gas stations prove to be a solid income source for the discount retailer, could we see the company expand it into the United States? ALDI’s offerings between the US and Germany are similar but also very different as the American stores can very much be seen as a stripped down version of its homeland locations. With most grocery stores in the US already having their own fuel brands or partnerships, ALDI coming into the game would look more like a “me too” move instead of a groundbreaking one it sees itself making in Germany.