FRANKFURT, Nov 20 (Reuters) - German discount grocery chain Aldi plans to enter the Chinese market as it seeks growth outside its traditional mature markets, according to a German magazine.
German monthly Manager Magazin said the families that own Aldi - comprising separate groups Aldi Sued and Aldi Nord - decided in February 2013 that they would look into expansion to China, citing the minutes of a recent management meeting.
It said Aldi Sued would execute market entry into China while Aldi Nord would decide on which two countries to target next. The magazine did not give a time frame for the move.
Aldi, the world's biggest discount store operator by sales, was not immediately available for comment.
Consultancy Planet Retail said it did not expect Aldi to start operations in China before 2018, at the earliest.
A move into China would add a fourth continent to Aldi's network after Europe, America and Australia and signal a shift from a focus on mature markets.
It would also launch it into a market in which global giants such as Carrefour and Tesco have struggled to succeed and where discount supermarkets have not yet taken off.
"Aldi thinks in decades rather than years, so the general conditions and the long-term outlook with higher single-digit growth rates in real terms look promising," Matthias Queck, research director at Planet Retail, said of Aldi's potential China move.
Aldi and its German rival Lidl have for years used own-brand goods and low prices to woo customers from Carrefour, Tesco and Metro.
Having reached saturation point at home, they have been seeking ways to expand market share, with Aldi for instance adding big brands such as Coca-Cola, Nivea and Nutella after flourishing for more than 40 years without stocking top brands. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter and Susan Thomas)