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Lidl to make Long Island debut next year

First wave of stores to include new units, converted Best Markets

More than a year after acquiring community grocer Best Market, Lidl US plans to open its first stores in Long Island, N.Y., in early 2020.

Lidl said Tuesday that “the first of several waves of openings on Long Island” will include brand-new stores in Plainview and Center Moriches and converted Best Market stores in Huntington and Babylon. The Plainview location will replace a current Best Market store in Hicksville.

Germany-based Lidl, whose U.S. headquarters is in Arlington, Va., announced the acquisition of Bethpage, N.Y.-based Best Markets in mid-November. Under the deal, terms of which weren’t disclosed, Lidl purchased 27 Best Market stores, including 24 on Long Island, two in New York City (Astoria and Harlem) and one in Holmdel, N.J. The transaction was closed in early 2019.

"We are happy to soon bring Lidl's unique and fresh approach to grocery shopping to Long Island," Lidl US CEO Johannes Fieber said in a statement. "Our new stores will allow customers to save time and money each week with a simple and efficient shopping experience. We also look forward to celebrating our grand openings with many familiar faces from the local Best Market teams."

Lidl noted that it will “invest heavily in Long Island” and use local contractors for the Best Market store remodels. Best Market staff will be offered employment at Lidl with wages and benefits that stay the same or get better, the company said.  A Lidl US spokesman previously told Supermarket News that the hard-discount grocer expects to convert the Best Market stores to its banner over the next two to three years.

Of the two new Lidl stores slated for Long Island, the Plainview location will occupy a former ShopRite site, while the Center Moriches location will take over a former Waldbaum’s space. Best Market already had planned to open stores in both spots before its acquisition by Lidl.

The launch of the Lidl banner on Long Island stands to disrupt an already intensely competitive retail grocery marketplace. Lidl made its debut in the metropolitan New York area in late 2018 with the opening of stores in Union, N.J., and Staten Island, N.Y. However, the opening of stores on Long Island will put Lidl deep inside affluent, densely populated suburban communities, positioning the retailer to quickly snap up market share.

What’s more, Lidl will have 10 stores in Long Island’s Nassau County, where rival hard-discount grocer Aldi has no locations. Aldi currently has six Long Island stores — all in Suffolk County — as well as locations in all New York City boroughs except Staten Island.

Now amid a major store opening and upgrade program, Aldi hasn’t disclosed its metro New York plans. Yet Katrijn Gielens, associate marketing professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, recently told SN that Aldi likely won’t sit still as Lidl sets up shop in the area.

“Whenever Lidl enters a market, Aldi speeds up its expansion program substantially,” she said. “I’m expecting that to happen almost everywhere Lidl is going to pop up.”

Last year, a widely cited study authored by Gielens found that grocery retailers near Lidl US stores cut prices for key staple items up to 55% lower than in non-Lidl markets. On average, competing retailers near Lidl stores set prices 9.3% lower than in their other trade areas.

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While Aldi has been on Long Island for years, Lidl will bring a somewhat new grocery shopping experience for many consumers in the region, industry observers say.

Lidl said Tuesday that, along with its easy-to-shop layout, Long Island customers will find fresh baked goods at a bakery situated at the entrance of the store; a wide variety of organic and gluten-free foods (including fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and packaged items); fresh and frozen, certified sustainable seafood; a changing selection of “Lidl Surprises” general merchandise (such as fitness gear, small kitchen appliances, toys and outdoor furniture); and award-winning private label beer and wine.

And, as with Aldi, Lidl stores will offer primarily store-brand products. Lidl said about 90% of the items sold at its locations are its exclusive private brands, and most of the retailer’s daily assortment is sourced in the United States by the Lidl US team. The company added that its private label products have no certified synthetic colors, added MSG or partially hydrogenated oils containing trans fats.

Overall, Lidl US operates more than 65 stores in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

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