Aldi is moving into independents’ territory with a growing focus on smaller drinks suppliers and is planning to sell wine online from early next year.

The chain is sourcing a Christmas beer from independent Midlands brewer Sadler’s is working with craft distillers on its festive spirits range and growing its Lot Series of small parcels of wine.

Dan Hobson, UK buying director for beers and spirits, told OLN: “We are not just doing what we think can get the lowest cost – we are trying to work with more artisanal, smaller suppliers.”

Hobson said he finds new suppliers at trade shows, festivals, by keeping his eyes open in other retailers and following up direct contact from producers.

“If you are on the lookout for new suppliers, as we are, they are there,” he said.

The first collection of four limited-edition Lot Series wines went on sale in spring and the second batch of five wines is coming out this month. With parcels of around 35,000 bottles per series, each individually numbered and priced at £9.99, Aldi can source from less well-known regions and get smaller producers on board.

UK wine buying director Mike James said: “The Lot Series is all about telling the wonderful story of wine to our customers – explaining that wine is a little bit of the winemaker’s heart and soul in a bottle.

“It might be really annoying that you love it and buy it and three months later you can’t find a bottle, but that is the beauty of wine.”

Aldi will start selling wine by the case online from early 2016 as the first stage of a wider e-commerce operation.

Analyst Fiona Cincotta at Finspreads said: “The move into e-commerce is set to step up the pressure even further [on supermarkets], with a very realistic possibility that it will eat into the market share of the big four who will be forced to defend their position.”