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Lidl lays groundwork in U.S.

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ARLINGTON, Va. — German discount grocer Lidl is preparing to open its first stores in the United States in late 2017 or 2018. The company has launched a recruiting drive and is looking for store sites in eastern states from Pennsylvania to South Carolina as well as Texas.

Lidl, which is part of the privately owned Schwarz Group, operates more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe.

According to IGD Retail Analysis, Lidl’s sales increased 9% to 64.4 billion euros (approximately $68.70 billion) during its fiscal year ended February 28, 2016.

The chain plans to open as many as 150 stores in the eastern states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia and Delaware. It has already begun construction on three distribution centers in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, and the first store sites are under development as well. A December report by IGD indicates that Lidl had nine sites under construction, 48 planned and another 37 proposed.

While the East will clearly be the initial focus of Lidl’s expansion, the retailer is also scouting locations in Texas.

“We are in the early stages of our preparation to launch in the U.S., and our focus right now is in our operations along the East Coast and opening our first stores no later than 2018,” a company spokesman told “However, I can tell you that we have started to scout sites in Texas as well. At this early stage, it’s too early for me to comment further.”

Lidl will encounter plenty of competition not only from traditional supermarkets but from its German discount grocery rival Aldi Group, which has a strong presence in the eastern U.S. and has opened nearly 100 stores in Texas since 2010. The other major discount grocer in the U.S., Sav-A-Lot, is also well represented in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Kantar Retail told Reuters that Lidl could achieve $2 billion in sales by the end of its second full year of business and almost $9 billion by 2023. The consulting firm expects Lidl to have more than 400 stores in the East within a few years.

Lidl will deploy a different, larger prototype than Aldi. According to site requirements detailed on the chain’s website, the Lidl stores will measure 36,000 square feet and require four-acre lots to accommodate at least 180 parking spaces. The current Aldi prototype measures around 18,000 square feet.

Aldi is in the midst of its own aggressive expansion in the U.S. In 2015 it announced plans to add 650 stores across the country, giving it a total of approximately 2,000 locations by the end of 2018.

While Aldi is clearly a hard discount grocer with its limited assortment that contains about 90% private label goods and its no-frills store environments, Lidl in 2014 began a transition to a soft discount strategy, with broader assortments and more national brand offerings. According to IGD, soft discounters typically offer assortments of up to 4,000 products, compared with less than 1,500 in a hard discount outlet. Offerings tend to include more fresh, chilled and frozen food as well.


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