A SOUTH west Wiltshire sheep farmer looks set to benefit from Aldi’s plans to increase the amount of food and drink it buys from British suppliers.

The German-owned supermarket chain plans a £3.5 billion rise in spend over the next five years as it continues its rapid expansion across the UK.

The company is investing £500 million in new and upgraded stores, distribution centres and its supply chain in 2021, which will create over 4,000 jobs as well as new opportunities for British food and drink producers.

The pledge from Aldi will help hundreds of British businesses continue to grow with the supermarket and invest for the future.

One couple who look set to benefit are Charollais sheep farmers Mark and Alice Blakeney, of Downs View Farm, at Limpers Hill near Mere, whose ongoing partnership with Aldi began in 2009 to supply the supermarket with lamb.

The partnership has enjoyed significant growth over the years. Having started with 30 sheep just over 10 years ago, Mr and Mrs Blakeney now breed 600 mule ewes and continue to diversify the business.

Mr Blakeney said: “When I started out on my own with just a small flock, I could not have imagined the growth we’ve enjoyed over the years.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Aldi in the future so that, with their support, we can help to put Wiltshire firmly on the foodie map by showcasing some of the best produce we have to offer.”

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer at Aldi UK, said: “We are expecting significant sales growth in 2021 as we open new stores and bring Aldi to more locations across the UK.

With the vast majority of our grocery products now coming from British suppliers, our growth will lead to additional jobs and investment in our UK supply chain.”

Aldi has also confirmed that the immediate payment terms for small suppliers it introduced at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic will be extended until the end of 2021.

The move will benefit more than 1,000 small British businesses in the supermarket’s supply chain. The supermarket will continue to process payments for suppliers with an annual turnover of less than £1 million with Aldi as soon as they are submitted.