Aldi is focusing the beginning of its $1.6 billion remodeling project near places where Lidl's first stores will be — like Fayetteville, NC, according to an article in Supermarket News.
Fayetteville's newly revamped Aldi opens today, while 12 others in the Raleigh-Durham area will be remodeled by the end of 2018. The discount chain also plans to remodel 31 stores near Charlotte, NC and 10 stores in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem of the state.
Lidl has big plans for that area as well. Lidl is opening several stores near Fayetteville, Charlotte and in the Winston-Salem area. The new Lidl stores will be opening starting this summer.
Who's on first? Aldi seems to be, with its store remodels running a couple of bases ahead of Lidl's U.S. launch this summer.
Aldi, with a decades-old presence in the U.S. and a store count exceeding 1,600, has always been as easy on the eyes as the pocketbook. Its traditional store doesn't demand a lot of the shopper, other than that he or she show up. The layout has been as simple as the selection, which has been minimal. The new store design offers more in space and selection, at no loss of the convenience and shopping ease for which the company has long been known.
Aldi's position is that they're competing with Lidl. Aldi does not compete with other stores in their market because no one else can — or would — risk challenging their price points. Lidl can — and will.
Aldi's remodeling and expanding move is a preemptive strike against a company it knows well. While the way Lidl will impact American grocery is a hot topic of speculation, Aldi knows this new competitor better than any other U.S. supermarket chain, having been up against them as hard-discounting competitors across Europe and elsewhere.
At their core, though, the two companies are different in significant ways. Aldi has traditionally down-played other-than-food offerings. Lidl embraces the opportunities they provide. Aldi stores are as much as 90% own-brand items. Lidl deep-discounts national and special limited-availability brands. Lidl is known to offer sales for very limited periods of time, like an hour or so. These could be special buys or loss-leaders it wants to clear out for something with a better margin. Aldi is less specials oriented, more geared to protecting its already-low prices on brands shoppers can't get elsewhere.
Walgreen and CVS often go head-to-head on the same street corners. Aldi and Lidl are unlikely to do that ever. The pharmacies are like mirror images of each other. These two grocers are dissimilar competitors with distinct differences. They want to maintain their differences and distinctions.