Lidl US has named Michal Lagunionek, formerly head of the retailer’s Poland division, as its new CEO beginning in June. He will replace Johannes Fieber, who is departing to spend more time with his family, according to an internal memo Fieber sent to Lidl staff on Tuesday.
Lagunionek has held the top role in Poland for the past decade and has 20 years of experience with Lidl, according to German business publication Libbensmittel Zeitung. For the past six years, he has been a member of Lidl’s International Board, where he has overseen the company's development across multiple countries.
Fieber said he will spend the next month helping transition Lagunionek into the new role. The appointment of Lagunionek, who will be the fourth CEO for Lidl US since it began operating in 2013, follows the resignation of U.S. chairman Roman Heini last year.
Fieber took the reins at Lidl in 2018 following an underwhelming start to the discounter’s U.S. campaign. Back then, the company insisted on building new, modern-looking stores from scratch — “glass palaces,” as Klaus Gehrig, CEO of parent company Schwarz Group, derisively called them at the time, according to reports — that felt disconnected from the grocery shopping environment many U.S. shoppers were used to. The company had also gained a reputation for poorly choosing its store locations.
Under Fieber, who formerly headed Lidl’s Sweden division, Lidl US added more touches like wood paneling, organic produce, colorful signage and promotions that U.S. shoppers are accustomed to. The company also began opening stores in malls, strip malls and other existing structures, and focused its development squarely on the East Coast.
After a pause in store openings, Lidl’s expansion ramped back up following the discounter’s acquisition of the Best Market chain on Long Island in late 2018. Lidl now has more than 130 stores in the U.S. and is one of the country’s fastest-growing grocers.
In the memo announcing his departure, Fieber noted the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on his family, on shoppers and on Lidl’s employees.
“For millions of Americans, and indeed for me as well, this past year also stressed the importance of family. Nothing is more important," he wrote. "I am immensely proud of our team’s work bringing greater stability and food access to families across our communities this past year.”
Lagunionek, the company's incoming CEO, spearheaded Lidl’s significant growth in Poland over the past decade. Recently, the division tested a click-and-collect service — a rare offering for the store-focused hard discounter. Last summer, the company tapped Lagunionek to oversee U.S. operations after former chairman Roman Heini left the company. Heini is now CEO of the Woolworth GmbH department store chain in Germany.
Lagunionek is the latest CEO in what’s become a revolving-door succession at Lidl, which holds its executives to high standards and prioritizes its systematic approach to retailing. Lidl US’s first CEO, Kenneth McGrath, departed the company in 2015, before any stores had opened, and is now CEO of the Save A Lot chain. He was succeeded by Lidl Ireland veteran Brendan Proctor, whom Fieber replaced in 2018.