It’s been nearly a year since global discount grocer Lidl announced its plans to enter the US market, starting with a $77 million investment for a new corporate headquarters just outside the capital in Arlington, VA, and a $125 million investment for a distribution center around 60 miles southwest from there in a town called Spotsylvania.
But the German grocery chain has been relatively quiet about its progress, generating only media buzz from local news sites when Lidl’s scouts come by, eyeing potential locations for its first batch of stores. “We are actively pursuing sites along the east coast of the U.S., from Pennsylvania and New Jersey down to Georgia,” John Froman, a spokesperson for Lidl US, told FoodNavigator-USA.
So far, there have been reports that Lidl may include West Pottsgrove Township and Wilson in Pennsylvania, Charlotte and Cary in North Carolina, New Jersey, as well as the DC area in the roster of its first US locations.
Poised to be a big player
Working out of the small city of Neckarsulm in Germany’s southwest, the chain operates more than 10,000 stores in 26 countries, all in Europe.
Coming across the Atlantic not only means that Lidl is expanding the battleground for its competition against its home-grown rival Aldi, which has been in the US since 1973, but also against local big contenders such as Walmart and Target, especially because Lidl offers deep discounts on not just groceries but appliances, clothes, and furniture (at least that’s the case in its European stores).
Like Aldi, Lidl is known for its no-frills approach by offering a low SKU count compensated with a strong private label offer. Business Insider likened Lidl stores to a cross between Walmart and Trader Joe’s.
In terms of strategy, the company has kept its mouth mostly shut other than the estimated deadline of 2018 for its first US store openings.
“Our strategy is simple: we are committed to delivering customers the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices in convenient locations,” Froman said.
“We feel our offering will be very attractive to customers here in the US, and we are excited to open our stores and to introduce our customers to a totally unique shopping experience unlike anything else in the market.”
An earlier version of the article mentioned that the stores will be opening in Charlotte and Cary counties in North Carolina. The municipalities of Charlotte and Cary are in Mecklenburg and Wake county respectively.