Aldi’s arch rival, the German discount grocery store chain Lidl, announced Friday that it will open 25 new stores in the United States by the spring of 2020. The new stores will be in East coast states, including Maryland, New York, Pennslyvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The new stores will bring Lidl’s total number of stores in the U.S. up to more than 100.
“We are committed to long-term growth in the United States,” Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl’s US operation, said in a statement that CNN received. “These new stores are part of the next steps in our US expansion.”
Lidl, which has more than 10,500 stores in 29 countries, opened its first stores in the U.S. during the summer of 2017, with plans to open 100 stores during its first year. However, the chain has fallen two years behind that schedule, which some observers have blamed on Lidl’s expansion strategy. CNN reported that Lidl’s early mistakes included opening stores that were too large and too far from urban hubs, which did not communicate a message that Lidl was a convenient and fast place to shop.
Aldi claims that Lidl has resorted to industrial espionage in an attempt fix its mistakes. Earlier this year, Aldi sued Lidl over allegations that Lidl collaborated with two former Aldi employees to steal Aldi’s growth plan and other trade secrets. Like Aldi, Lidl is a small-inventory grocer that offers discount prices and mostly private-label brands, including organic food and fresh produce.
Lidl has recently slowed its new store openings, according to CNN, and last year Lidl replaced its United States CEO and partnered with Boxed to a trial of online home delivery. It’s opening smaller stores in areas with high traffic, and it’s acquired some Best Market supermarkets in New York and New Jersey and will rebrand those stores to Lidl. It also will be closing two stores in North Carolina as part of its effort to operate stores in convenient, higher traffic locations.
Despite its stumbles, Lidl has had an effect in the areas it has opened stores. Grocery stores near Lidl stores often end up lowering prices to compete, CNN reported. A study by Katrijn Gielens, an associate professor of marketing at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, showed that in parts of Virginia and North Carolina where Lidl opened stores in 2017, grocery stores lowered half-gallon milk prices by up to 55% compared to stores in other areas where there are no Lidl stores. Avocados and bread also were up to 30% cheaper at grocery stores near Lidl, according to Gielens.