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Aldi Exterior.png Tim Inklebarger

Could Aldi surpass Kroger Co. store count?

Closure of Southeastern Grocers acquisition sets the stage for the German discount grocer to take on the country’s top supermarket chain

Aldi has closed on its acquisition of Southeastern Grocers, paving the way for the discount grocer to surpass the 3,000 store mark by 2028 and putting the chain past the current store count of all Kroger Co.-owned banners combined. 

Aldi claimed 2,362 stores as of March 12 — that’s only five stores more than it reported in early February, according to data firm ScrapeHero. While the company’s store count is growing more rapidly than many other chains, five stores a month puts Aldi at roughly 300 new stores over the next four and a half years. 

That’s far below the 800 new locations the company has promised to open by 2028. Even if Aldi doubles its rate of store openings, it still misses its goal by several hundred.

Meanwhile, ScrapeHero puts Kroger and its various banners, such as Harris Teeter, King Soopers, Mariano’s, and more, at just under 3,000, as of March 12. 

Aldi plans to make up the difference through its acquisition of Southeastern Grocers and its Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket banners. That adds as many as 400 locations into the mix.

“We are excited to close the acquisition of Southeastern Grocers and its Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket banners to accelerate our national growth …” the company said in an email to Supermarket News. “This landmark moment in our company history builds on our national growth strategy, solidifying ALDI as one of the nation’s fastest-growing grocers.”

Aldi said that “a meaningful amount of Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarkets will continue to operate under their current banners,” so expect the count of five new stores per month to ratchet up over the next few years. 

“Starting mid-summer, ALDI will begin a phased approach to the store conversion process. Aldi anticipates that approximately 50 stores will begin the conversion process during the latter half of 2024, with the majority of these stores reopening as ALDI in 2025,” the company said in early March. 

It’s still unknown whether Kroger will receive approval from federal regulators to acquire the country’s second-largest pure-play grocer, Albertsons, as the Federal Trade Commission, along with eight states and the District of Columbia, have sued to block the merger. Albertsons comes in fourth in terms of grocery sales, when you include Walmart and Costco, which are not considered pure-play grocers. Albertsons is currently among the largest pure-play grocery chains in terms of store count, claiming 2,305 locations as of March 5, according to ScrapeHero. 

And irrespective of whether that deal goes through, Kroger could likely expand its own store count. But if Aldi continues the Starbucks strategy of opening stores as quickly as possible, it could quickly join the ranks of the nation’s largest supermarket chains.

These chains are all dwarfed, however, by Walmart, which had 4,618 U.S. stores, as of March 18. 

Aldi said in early March, shortly after the closure of the Southeastern Grocers deal, that it will invest $9 billion on the opening of new stores to reach its goal of opening 800 new locations.

* This article was updated to clarify how Albertsons ranks in terms of store count and sales. 

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