The UK and Ireland branch of discount supermarket chain Aldi has reported that its annual sales increased by 10.2% to £13.5bn ($18.3bn) in the 12 months to 31 December, compared to £12.28bn ($16.6bn) in the previous year.

The company’s pre-tax profits dropped by 2.5% to £264.8m ($358.4m) from £271.5m ($367.5m) in 2019.

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Its operating profit also fell by 1.2% to £287.7m ($389.4m), compared to £291.2m ($394m) in the previous year.

Aldi UK and Ireland CEO Giles Hurley said: “Whilst 2020 was an extremely challenging year, our 41,000 colleagues stepped up when it mattered most – their dedication to the communities they serve has been nothing short of remarkable.

“Despite some of the most difficult conditions our sector has ever seen, our people underlined the strength, success and spirit of our business.

“As well as delivering record sales, we continued to invest for growth, deploying over £600m in stores and distribution centres across the UK.

“This helped to create thousands of much-needed jobs and support for British farmers and manufacturers.”

In a separate development, Aldi has committed to investing £1.3bn ($1.8bn) over the next two years to aid its growth in the UK grocery market.

The company will open 100 stores across the UK over the next two years and add more than 2,000 jobs to the 7,000 permanent roles created over the past two years.

Hurley added: “We’re continuing to gain even more customers – with over 60% of households shopping with Aldi in the last year.

“By redefining the discount supermarket in the UK, creating more places and more ways to shop with us, we are excited to provide millions of new customers with access to Aldi’s award-winning quality and unbeatable value.”

Aldi recently announced trials of a checkout-free concept store in London, UK.

The store allows customers to scan a smartphone app when entering, then collect their items and walk out without having to pay at a checkout.