LONDON: Aldi, the German discount supermarket chain, is stepping up its challenge to its larger established rivals with plans to launch an online service next year.

The no-frills retailer said it will sell wine by the case online and follow that with sales of special non-food items. It also will offer home delivery and collection from third-party locations, the Guardian reported.

By offering an online service, Aldi effectively will obtain national coverage and its wine promotion could attract more affluent, middle-class shoppers, a key demographic in the fiercely competitive UK supermarket sector.

"Our launch online is another exciting chapter in our story," said Matthew Barnes, chief executive of Aldi UK. "This will enable us to introduce the Aldi brand and some of our best-selling, best quality and best value products to thousands more customers across the UK."

The announcement came as Aldi reported UK sales of £6.9bn in the year to December 2014, up more than 30% on the £5.3bn it reported for the previous year.

It said it was on course to open 65 more stores this year, up from 54 in 2014, with plans to increase its portfolio to 1,000 stores by 2022.

Catherine Shuttleworth, chief executive of retail marketing agency Savvy, said Aldi was being sensible to start with wine and non-food categories because they will be more profitable than a full grocery home delivery service. Wine is also more likely to draw in affluent shoppers, she told Internet Retailing.

"This is Aldi's time," she said. "The retailer continues to demonstrate an instinctive connection with the mood of the nation and is ideally positioned to serve the changing UK shopper.

"Its move online, we believe, is another reason why the retailer will continue to outpace the market over the next five to 10 years."

Data sourced from The Guardian, Internet Retailing; additional content by Warc staff