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German grocer Lidl breaks ground in Eden

German grocer Lidl breaks ground in Eden

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EDEN — A European-based grocery store is expanding into the U.S. with 100 locations – including Eden.

Lidl (rhymes with needle) has already broken ground on South Van Buren Road – N.C. 14 for Rockingham County residents outside of Eden – across from Ruby Tuesday’s. The 4.18 acres was purchased for $750,000 in early 2016.

Construction crews began moving equipment to the site next to King’s Chandelier several weeks ago, followed by an office trailer, and now a chain-link fence has been erected around the property’s perimeter for the public’s safety.

“We’re still very early in the long process,” Lidl spokesman Will Harwood told The Eden News on Monday. “We’re preparing a number of sites [across the East Coast] and at this stage, we have are not addressing individual sites and have not set opening dates or specific timelines.”

He said the grocer does expect to open its first store in the U.S. no later than 2018.

“As a company, we’ve been doing groceries for more than 40 years, and we have a deep presence across Europe,” Harwood said. “We have more than 10,000 stores in every country, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden and the U.K.” The stores are in 27 European countries.

According to Lidl U.S. President and CEO Brendan Proctor, “Our philosophy is simple: we are focusing on offering customers top quality products at the most competitive pricing in convenient locations.”

Lidl markets offer customers fresh meat, fresh produce, fresh bread and household goods.

Harwood said the company is uncompromising on that foundation, and is “tailoring it specifically to the U.S. market. As we come forward, we are confident that we will have something unlike anything else in the market.”

Lidl has been compared to one of its biggest competitors, the Germany-based Aldi, which has locations in Martinsville and Danville, Virginia. Harwood, however said, “Lidle is not like any other store. We’re building beautiful stores that are convenient, efficient, and offering a unique experience.”

Forbes Magazine calls Lidl a “soft discounter” offering a broader product portfolio and more brand names than a “hard discounter” like Aldi that offers a highly limited assortment dominated by private labels.

Eden already is home to another hard discounter, Save-A-Lot food store, which offers about 1,800 products at about a 40 percent discount. Eden also has two Food Lions and a Walmart Supercenter.

Harwood would not further explain the “unique experience,” other than saying more information would be available closer to the time the store opens.

In 2015, the German company was named Grocer of the Year by the Grocer Gold Awards in London.

In June of that year, Lidl announced the establishment of its U.S. corporate headquarters in McLean, Virginia. A few weeks later, the company revealed plans for regional headquarters and distribution centers in Alamance County; Spotsylvania County, Virginia; and Cecil County, Maryland.

As for store locations, Lidl lays out its criteria, which includes:

  • Being within its current targeted areas
  • An opportunity to purchase the property
  • At least 4 acres to accommodate a 36,000 square-foot stand-alone store with at least 180 parking spaces
  • An intersection with a traffic signal and high visibility for the store
  • Dense population within 3 miles
  • Traffic counts of more than 20,000 vehicles per day
  • Site zoned for grocery retail use

Lidl continues to host hiring events in North Carolina, including one at the Radisson Hotel in High Point yesterday and today, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

“We have great positions, with management making up to $60,000 per year with great benefits, and supervisors making up to $17.50 per hour with benefits,” Harwood said. “For store management, since we don’t have any U.S. stores yet, we will take successful candidates and send them to Europe for training and development.”

The store leaders who are hired will play an important role in introducing Lidl to area customers.

Harwood said a typical store has 30 to 35 team members.

According to a September article in Business Insider, North Carolina will have stores in Cary, Gastonia, Greensboro, Greenville, Henderson, Indian Trail, Lexington, Mooresville, Raleigh, Rockingham, Rocky Mount, Sanford, Shelby, Thomasville, Wilmington, Winston-Salem, and two each in Burlington, Charlotte, Wake Forest and Wilson – for a total of 25 locations across the state. The article also listed 21 stores in Virginia, although it didn’t mention Danville, where one is clearly under construction near Sam’s Club. Other states include 13 stores in South Carolina, 11 in New Jersey, four in Maryland, five in Georgia, and two in Delaware.

“I’ve shopped at Lidl in many different countries. It’s amazing and at the end of the day, you walk away feeling amazed by what you were able to get at the prices you were able to get it for,” Harwood said.

“It’s really special what we do, and have developed over time the unique way we do groceries, and it’s something we’re very excited to be rolling out and bringing to the U.S. Personally, I can’t wait to shop in the stores.”

Contact Gerri Hunt at (336) 349 -4331, ext. 6137 and follow @HuntGerri_RCN on Twitter.

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