Aldi launches clothing range for riders

A new range of equestrian clothing by cut-price supermarket chain Aldi has sparked debate, but the equestrian trade has told H&H it is not worried.

Tesco was the first supermarket to branch into riding wear in 2006 and Aldi’s new Equestrian Specialbuys range went on sale on 24 July. It offers yard boots at £12.99, polo shirts at £8.99 and children’s jodhpurs for £8.99.

“The equestrian range allows both pros and beginners to gain good quality, affordable gear — breaking down the entry costs for families up and down the country who want to get involved in a great sport,” said Aldi’s Tony Baines.

In January, H&H reported that dozens of tack shops have been forced to close, many citing internet competition and soaring running costs for their downfall. Could supermarkets launching equestrian ranges put further pressure on traditional tack shops?

Claire Williams from the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) feels supermarket brands could increase the sport’s appeal.

“At the time, many thought Tesco was showing that riding was much more of a mainstream sport, making it appear to be more accessible to a wider audience. Aldi may have the same impact,” she told H&H.

Retailer Rachel Plant from Hot Togs also thinks this is a good thing. “There is real demand for reasonably priced products that offer style and performance,” she said. “If riding can be made more accessible by offering an alternative to the higher-priced options then that has to be a good thing.”

However, Ms Williams added it was unlikely to be dedicated riders that buy from Aldi.

“The majority rely on the professional equestrian retailer,” she said. “Aldi’s range would appear to be very limited, focused on a small range of basic items, but none of the more technical pieces that regular riders need. When riders want more than this they will inevitably turn to specialist tack shops.”

H&H readers agreed.

“I wouldn’t shop there as it is better to spend more money on buying quality clothes ,” said Hannah Ross from Surrey. ”However, I would if it was for a child as they grow so quickly.”

Margaret Fitts added: ”With such cheap prices, it would be worth checking out. Although, I would question whether it was as good quality as the equestrian brands that I have relied on for years.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (7 August, 2014)