A compact store that opened this month in North Sydney, Australia, is demonstrating eye-opening new possibilities for the hard-discount concept.
Aldi Australia, a sister company to Aldi U.S. through its German parent Aldi Sud, has opened an urban interpretation of its standard discount store, known as Aldi Corner Store, which introduces a number of new products, a playful new design, and what its designer described as a “genuine” effort to reflect its local environment. The new store, which company officials said could be replicated in additional urban locations, is among a range of new initiatives that Aldi Australia—the country’s third-largest grocer—will be introducing in coming years.
Landini Associates, the Sydney-based branding and design agency, developed comprehensive conceptual and design work including what it called a “tone of voice” that speaks to urban shoppers in signage.
The following photos, courtesy of Corporate Pixel/Kyle Ford, provide a further look inside.
With its emphasis on urban locations, the layout of the 10,600-square-foot Aldi Corner Store is driven by the need to refurbish existing buildings rather than constructing new properties—an approach aligned to the needs of a local, largely walk-in customer base, Landini Associates said.
Grocery and fresh produce are still the core offering but are newly supplemented by a growing range of ready-to-go meals and convenience-based products, as well as new take-away coffee, artisanal bakery offerings and a self-service juicer. The brand’s beloved “Special Buys” remain a core part of the Corner Store service offering.
The design emphasizes Aldi Australia’s dedication to corporate responsibility, reflected in the brand’s recent delivery of 100% renewable electricity across its business operations, a commitment to send zero waste to landfills by 2025 and a pledge to reduce plastics and packaging by 25%.
“For 20 years we’ve been operating in Australia to the beat of our own unique drum and that’s not going to change. As we embark on a range of significant projects to sustain our growth, we remain committed to building a business that is good for our employees, good for our business partners and good for our customers,” said Aldi Austalia CEO Tom Daunt.
Rather than featuring local photographs or signs declaring the location, the Corner Store was designed to celebrate its community through strategic local art partnerships. Sydney mural artist Joel Moore, known as Mulga, was commissioned by Landini Associates to decorate both the interior and facade of the North Sydney site.
Featuring Mulga’s signature bright colors, the facade mural’s focus is on food and fresh produce, and it also references familiar activities and the energy of the North Sydney neighborhood, designers said. According to the artist, key elements include representations of a red Banksia plant, which is native to North Sydney, along with wavy blue lines referencing the area’s proximity to the harbor.
“We wanted to create a solution that is both a design signature and memorably Aldi, but also something truly different. We have ensured that each Aldi Corner Store will be recognizable and distinct, both in the design parameters and in this first store by commissioning a unique artwork,” said Mark Landini, creative director of Landini Associates.
To generate a consistent brand atmosphere and customer experience, each Aldi Corner Store will feature a material palette of pale brick, white tiles and blockwork, terrazzo and black and galvanized steel mesh, timber palettes, oak and walnut, which is all sustainable, Landini said. Those materials combine with retail graphics that create a consistent appeal in everything from naming and messaging to store signage and navigation, including category and subcategory checkouts, self-checkout locations, basket storage, signage on trolleys, and unusually appealing staff uniforms.
“In collaboration with the Aldi team, we’ve created a new brand based on the importance of community and that celebrates food, people and place,” said Ben Goss, graphic design director for Landini Associates. “With a combination of playful mural art and simple and direct graphic communications, the Aldi Corner Store experience is all about making the customer smile during their shopping journey. We’re proud of how we incorporated these important messages throughout the store environment—even the team uniforms highlight how the North Sydney property is powered by 100% renewable electricity.”
While there is no current indication Aldi is at work on a similar format for the U.S., its evolution in Australia demonstrates an ability to disrupt that is similar to its growth in the U.S. and accompanies a notable new commitment to evolution that bears watching.
Aldi arrived in Australia for the first time in 2001 and today operates around 500 stores, controlling more than 12% of the market, according to reports.
In a news release this week, Daunt said the company would be introducing a number of new initiatives over the next five years that “will see the business adopting smart and bespoke technology to expand the reach of its ‘Good Different’ shopping experience. Both Aldi’s growing customer base and employees will have an improved experience, while also achieving the ambitious goals to reduce the company’s environmental footprint.”
Daunt said Aldi had traditionally been cautious around tech investment, citing its focus on costs and viability.
“Having watched the market and evaluated which technological advancements provide cost-saving and which customers also respond to favorably, we’ve strategically set on a path to modernize our business while maintaining our Good Different approach, underpinned by our core purpose of providing high quality groceries at incredibly low prices,” he said.
A playful and distinct take on employee uniforms.
Dan Gavin, vice president of national real estate, Aldi U.S., in a statement to WGB said the division does not have plans to roll out a similar format at this time.
“However, we have seen demonstrated success of several of our new mixed-use development ALDI stores in major cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and New York City. As we grow in urban areas, we’ll continue to explore alternative, innovative store formats that make sense for city settings,” he said.
A look at some refrigerated goods.