- Lidl quietly opened a new location in Suwanee, Georgia, on Wednesday, bringing to 100 the number of stores the German discount supermarket chain operates in the United States, according to a press release the company emailed to Grocery dive. The store opened without a ribbon-cutting because of the pandemic-related safety measures it has in place.
- The new store, located northeast of Atlanta, is Lidl’s sixth in Georgia. The company opened a store in nearby Peachtree Corners, Georgia, near Suwanee, on May 13, and is building a location on property that formerly housed a Sprouts store in nearby Dunwoody, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
- In addition to building new stores, Lidl is moving forward with a new regional distribution center in Covington, Georgia, also in the Atlanta region, as part of an effort to establish a larger presence in the U.S. grocery market. “We plan to continue to build new stores, ramp up our hiring efforts, and expand our network of distribution centers to reach even more customers in the years ahead,” Roman Heini, chairman of Lidl’s U.S. unit, said in a statement.
Lidl’s expansion in Georgia is part of the company’s effort to spring ahead after stumbling out of the starting gate in the United States, where the company — which has about 11,000 stores and is active in 32 countries — remains a relatively small player.
Lidl had hoped to have 100 stores by 2018, but was only able to open 59 by that point. Critics, including the top executive at parent company Schwarz Group, dinged the company for its approach to real estate, store sizing and a lack of appreciation for just how tough competition from U.S. grocers would be.
But Lidl quickly adjusted. It builds a range of store sizes now and bought 27 Best Market stores in New York and New Jersey in 2018 as part of an effort to breathe new life into its plans. It also changed its top leadership and implemented updates like new signage and updated promotion scheduling.
The company has also sought to set itself apart during the pandemic, announcing in March that would provide a package of health care benefits specific to the coronavirus at no cost to new and existing employees.
The new Lidl store in Suwanee is located less than 10 miles from an Aldi location in the same city, symbolizing the competition between the two chains to attract value-oriented grocery shoppers. Lidl’s 100 U.S. stores in nine states place it way behind Aldi, which runs 1,900 stores across 36 states and has invested heavily in renovations.
Lidl has been opening new stores in the United States at a steady pace of late. It opened two stores on Long Island, its first ones there, in December, along with locations in New Jersey and North Carolina.
But while Lidl is growing in this country at a time when customers are looking for value, it will be facing tough competition from a host of grocers, including of fellow German discount grocer Aldi and Dollar General, which said in March that it plans to accelerate its DG Fresh self-distribution program for fresh and frozen products.