Lidl announced Wednesday that it would open the first 20 of its U.S. stores this summer as part of 100 planned openings within a year, events that could kick off a new era of competition for U.S. grocers.
The German discounter characterized the summer openings as “ahead of schedule” although the company had previously said only that its first U.S. stores would open prior to 2018. The first wave of stores, to be located at unspecified locations in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, would open roughly four years after reports first surfaced of Lidl's plans to expand in the U.S.
Lidl has established U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va. and is building regional distribution centers in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina with intentions of servicing stores along the East Coast from New Jersey to Georgia. A spokesman acknowledged Lidl reps have also scouted Texas although a formal announcement of intentions to expand there has not been made. The first 100 Lidl stores would create approximately 4,000 jobs, officials said.
Lidl is a division of Schwarz Group, one of Europe’s largest retailers with 10,000 stores in 26 countries, and is often compared to its domestic rival Aldi for efficient operations, limited assortment and service, and heavy emphasis on private label goods. Those retailers have created havoc among conventional operators in Europe, and sources predict a similar fate could await U.S. grocers, many of whom are already feeling effects of Aldi’s rapid U.S. growth and concurrent evolution toward a more mainstream customer.
Lidl’s planned U.S. stores of 36,00 square feet would be more than twice the size of typical Aldi locations.
In a statement, Lidl US President Brendan Proctor said Lidl’s U.S. stores would offer a combination of convenience, price and quality that would address “compromises” in typical grocery shopping.
“Customers are being forced to choose between quality, price and convenience, and this is a compromise they shouldn’t have to make,” Proctor said. “At Lidl, we are committed to delivering outstanding quality goods to our customers at market leading prices. We are carefully curating our selection to ensure every choice in our stores is a great choice for our customers.”
“Thanks to the efficient work of our team, we are excited to announce that Lidl will open its first stores in the United States ahead of schedule. We are thrilled to introduce residents across the East Coast to a unique shopping experience,” said Proctor. “Grocery shopping involves too much compromise. Customers are being forced to choose between quality, price and convenience, and this is a compromise they shouldn’t have to make. At Lidl, we are committed to delivering outstanding quality goods to our customers at market leading prices. We are carefully curating our selection to ensure every choice in our stores is a great choice for our customers.”