Aldi gears up for Lidl fight

WASHINGTON — German discount grocer Aldi appears to be preparing to protect its flank as rival German discount grocery Lidl begins its entry to the U.S. grocery store market.

Aldi currently has about 1,600 locations across the U.S. It says it will invest $3.4 billion to expand to 2,500 U.S. locations by 2022.

Aldi is already spending $1.6 billion to remodel the majority of its existing U.S. stores, including $30 million to remodel stores in the Washington region with larger produce, dairy and bakery sections.

Aldi has 30 stores in the Washington region. While it did not say where the new stores will open, with nationwide expansion plans that big, it is fair to say Washington will be getting several more Aldi locations.

Rival Lidl (pronounced LEE-duhl) established its North American headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, in 2015 as a base for its U.S. expansion and will open its first U.S. stores this summer, including locations in Northern Virginia.

Lidl has established distribution centers in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and Cecil County, Maryland.

Lidl hasn’t yet set opening dates for its Washington area locations, but it began holding job fairs to fill positions in December.

Lidl will open about two dozen stores in Virginia, as well as in North Carolina and South Carolina this summer, with a goal of about 100 locations on the East Coast within a year.

Aldi touts its prices as being up to 50 percent lower than traditional grocery stores. Lidl has said its products would be up to 50 percent less expensive than competitors.

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