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Lidl’s American debut a big draw

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NEW YORK — Long lines of shoppers greeted the openings of Lidl’s first nine U.S. stores this month.

Hundreds of customers awaited the debuts of stores in Virginia Beach and Hampton, Va., as well as in Greenville, S.C. Other lines formed in North Carolina.

The off-price German retailer expects to have 20 supermarkets operating in the three states by summer’s end and as many as 100 up and down the East Coast within a year. Lidl U.S. president and chief executive officer Brendan Procter, who attended the Virginia Beach premiere, said the chain is looking forward to a Richmond debut.

“Lidl is grocery shopping refreshed, retooled and rethought to make life better for all our customers,” said Procter. “From our selection of sustainable products like our certified fresh and frozen seafood to top-quality wines from around the world available at market-beating prices, our team puts extra effort and attention into each product we put on our shelves. When customers shop at Lidl, they will experience less complexity, lower prices, better choices and greater ­confidence.”

All of the stores opening this summer are newly built, encompassing about 20,000 square feet and featuring what the company called an easy-to-shop layout with just six aisles. Each will offer bread and pastries made daily on the premises. About 90% of the groceries for sale at a Lidl outlet are store-brand products.

The chain carries organic fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and gluten-free items, and it promises “surprises” including a changing selection of nonfoods each week. The assortment will include fitness gear, small kitchen appliances, toys and outdoor ­furniture.

Lidl, which is part of the privately owned Schwarz Group, runs more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe. In many ways the retailer is similar to Aldi, another German food retailer that woos consumers with extremely low prices.

Aldi, which has been in the United States for the past four decades, is responding to Lidl’s arrival with plans to modernize the majority of its existing U.S. outlets and open hundreds of new ones.



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