NEW YORK — Lidl, the German no-frills supermarket chain, is opening its first wave of stores in the U.S. this summer ahead of schedule, with plans to open up to 100 locations across the East Coast within a year.
And the Augusta area is right in the middle of it. A 36,000-square-foot Lidl is under constrction at 417 E. Martintown Road in North Augusta, and stores are planned for Riverwatch Parkway at Alexander Drive and Grovetown.
The details of the expansion, announced Wednesday, come as Wal-Mart and traditional grocery chains already are seeing a stronger threat from German low-priced retailer Aldi, which has been aggressively expanding. Both offer low prices by focusing on store-label products rather than name brands. Aldi has also been adding items to include gluten-free products and fresh produce.
North Augusta has an Aldi on Knox Avenue that opened in April. There’s one on Whisky Road in Aiken and on Bobby Jones Expressway in Martinez, and another is planned for Grovetown, in the same area as the Lidl.
Lidl’s first 20 U.S. stores will open in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, where the company established its first U.S. headquarters in 2015. Originally, it planned to open its first batch of U.S. stores no later than 2018. Lidl operates about 10,000 stores in 27 countries.
Both Lidl and Aldi have been aggressively expanding in Europe. In the United Kingdom, a fierce price war has hurt Wal-Mart’s Asda business as well as traditional local retailers.
Aldi, which opened its first store in the U.S. in 1976, now has more than 1,600 stores in the United States and plans to increase that to nearly 2,000 by the end of 2018.
It announced earlier this month that it’s spending $1.6 billion on remodeling more than 1,300 of them.
Aldi carries more than 1,300 grocery and household items, mostly under its brand. The company eliminates overhead costs by building smaller stores, encouraging reusable shopping bags, opening during prime shopping hours, and implementing a shopping cart rental system in which customers insert a quarter to use carts and receive the quarter back when they return it.
The chain, based in Germany and founded in 1913, opened its first U.S. location in Iowa. The company operates about 4,000 stores worldwide.
Staff Writer James Folker contributed to this story.