Twenty Lidl Stores to Open by the End of 2017
German grocery chain Lidl is set to open its first U.S. store as early as this summer in Fredericksburg, VA. Well-known throughout Europe and a direct competitor of Aldi, Lidl has the ability to completely reshape the U.S. grocery market in the coming months. But before they do, here are five important facts to know about this latest German grocery store.
1. Lidl Has Been in the U.S. Since 2015
Lidl opened it’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, VA back in 2015. Currently, it employs some 1,400 associates there, and it even has a U.S. President, Brandon Proctor. In addition, Lidl has already built three major distribution centers in the Mid-Atlantic. They are located in Spotsylvania, VA, Alamance, NC, and Cecil County, MD and cost an estimated $100 million to build.
2. The First Lidl Stores Will Open this Summer
Proctor reported back in February that Lidl was ahead of schedule in opening its first U.S. stores. He estimated that the first store, located in Fredericksburg, VA, will open this summer. Lidl also has plans to open 20 stores in three states (Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) by the end of 2017.
3. They Have Big Plans for Expansion
Lidl is already big. In fact, it operates over 10,000 stores in 26 countries. So it’s no surprise that Lidl’s plans for the U.S. market are equally ambitious. In addition to the 20 stores it will open in 2017, Lidl hopes to have 100 stores operating by the end of 2018. Lidl has focused its initial growth on the Mid-Atlantic states from New York to Florida as well as Texas. While the initial stores will remain in VA, NC, and SC, there are already definite plans to add Lidl locations in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
Furthermore, it is reasonable to believe that these first 100 Lidl stores are just the beginning. Industry experts note that the rapid expansion of Aldi in the U.S. should be viewed as a blueprint for the Lidl model. They say that Aldi’s plan to expand to 2,000 stores by 2020 may be matched or exceeded in the Lidl plan.
4. U.S. Lidl Stores Will Be Different
In Europe, Lild operates as a hard discount grocery store similar to Aldi. However, the company has done a lot of research on the U.S. market, and they have determined that the discount grocer model is less popular on this side of the Atlantic. So, the face of Lidl will change a bit in America. For starters, they plan to elevate their image to operate as a “cross between Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter.” In addition, they will operate larger stores as compared to their European counterparts. Estimates put the new Lidl locations between 30,000 and 39,000 square feet. This is nearly twice the size of most Aldi stores, but smaller than most conventional U.S. supermarkets.
5. But Some Things Will Stay the Same
Lidl made its name in Europe because of its ability to offer quality foods at a discount price. In the United States, it will stick to a similar model which relies on limited SKUs and mostly private labels.
In addition, because the understand the changing face of food and consumer demands in America, many of Lidl’s American products will be aimed at health-conscious eaters. There will be an extensive fresh section in each store, along with many organic and “free from” options. These selections are a direct attack on labels such as Whole Foods’ 365 and Aldi’s Simply Nature brands.
Getting Ready for the Lidl Invasion
While it’s still months away, shoppers in the Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina markets should be ready to serve as a litmus test for us all when it comes to Lidl. Indeed, this newest European invasion has the potential to completely upend the U.S. grocery market, a task they have already completed in the U.K.
Lidl first moved to the United Kingdom back in 1994 and enjoyed a relatively small, cult-like following for much of its first two decades. However, in the midst of global economic recession, inflation following the Brexit campaign last year, and the entrance of a new generation of discount shoppers into the market, Lidl and Aldi have made double-digit gains in the U.K. for the past several years.
Likewise, the so-called “big four” retailers, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, have seen minimal (less than 1%) growth and even loss. Lidl’s approach of smaller stores, fewer items, and retail agility has led them to succeed in the U.K. and they have no reason to believe that it will be any different on this side of the Atlantic.