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The Washington Post reports that Germany-based discounter Lidl will open its first 20 stores in the US this summer "in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, an earlier debut than the 2018 time frame that it initially targeted. Within 12 months of opening its first U.S. stores, it is slated to have 100 locations up and down the East Coast."

The story says that Lidl has been testing concepts for a US prototype at an under-wraps facility in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and several differences from its European stores already have emerged.

First, the US stores will be about 21,000 square feet, 35 percent larger than its traditional European stores, largely because the company believes it will have to offer a broader array of products to attract US consumers. It also will offer chilled beer and free samples, especially in the bakery department, which it does not do in Europe.

The Post also reports that "Lidl will aim to offer a tightly edited assortment, including familiar brands but also plenty of private-label goods. The current model includes just six aisles, a store layout that executives hope is conducive to easy navigation and flow. Other goods, such as produce, are displayed in island-like groupings. To make things efficient and to keep costs down, you might see items on shelves in the cardboard boxes they were shipped in. As it does elsewhere, Lidl will feature a large section dedicated to non-grocery items." But quality appears to be a higher priority - at least in terms of positioning - than it is in Europe.

The story notes that "Lidl has some 1,400 workers in the United States already, and it is poised to add 4,000 more when it opens the stores."
KC's View:
What is interesting about this story is how it positions Lidl as being more flexible about adjusting its approach in the US than one might expect of a company that has 10,000 stores - all with limited assortment, dominated by private label, focused on low prices - in 27 countries. That's not to say the essence of the offering will be different, but Lidl seems to want to avoid the missteps Tesco made when it opened Fresh & Easy in the US.

Mike Paglia, an analyst at Kantar Retail, tells the Post that "the most affected retailers could end up being the likes of Giant and Safeway, which he said aren’t bringing anything particularly different to the marketplace."