SUPERMARKET giant Aldi saw sales surge by 29pc in Ireland and the UK last year.
Accounts for the German-owned Aldi Stores just posted to the Companies' Office show sales jumped to £2.76bn (€3.45bn) last year.
Pre-tax profits from Irish and UK stores jumped to £70.5m following pre-tax losses of £56.8m in 2010 due mainly from £58.5m losses on the disposal of fixed assets.
Aldi, which opened its first supermarket in Ireland in 1999, has 96 stores in Ireland and will have 99 in operation by the end of this year.
Data from Kantar Worldpanel suggests Aldi increased its share of the Irish supermarket sector by 30pc over the past year and is now the fifth largest player in the market.
Figures to the end of September show that Aldi enjoyed the greatest increase in market share and, in the process, overtook Superquinn in terms of its percentage of the market.
The figures show that Aldi's share of the grocery market increased from 4.6 pc to 6pc in the year to the end of September.
Aldi, which does not disclose its sales or profits in Ireland, increased its operating profits five-fold in Ireland and the UK from £18.6m to £102.9m last year.
The figures show that £26.4m from interest charges reduced the profits to £70.5m.
According to the directors' report, "during the year, the group has continued to make significant investment in expanding its business, opening 29 new stores, extending and refurbishing a number of existing stores and preparing for further growth in the future".
The opening of 29 stores last year followed 24 stores opening in 2010.
The directors state that they "believe the group's strong balance sheet will help support future growth of the business".
The firm had shareholder funds totalling £1.5bn last year that includes accumulated profits of £304.1m.
The firm's cash last year increased from £130.7m to £293m.
In 2009, the group initiated a disposal programme of older stores and assets surplus to requirements and this continued in 2011.
As a result, it has made a decision to sell a number of sites which did not fit the core business model.
This has resulted in impairment provisions of £9m being charged to the profit and loss account in the year to reflect the market value of these sites.
The filings show that the numbers employed by the company increased from 6,205 to 7,411 last year with staff costs increasing from £173m to £206.5m
The figures show that the highest paid director received £1.1m in emoluments and pension contributions last year.
The profit for the supermarket last year takes account of £74.9m in non-cash depreciation and £42.3m in operating lease rentals.