German grocery chains Aldi and Lidl have their eyes on Central Texas as part of aggressive plans to expand across the United States
Both chains are known for their low prices, offering an assortment of primarily generic store brands. Lidl, in its marketing materials, claims shoppers can save as much as 50 percent compared to a traditional grocery store.
Aside from stocking little in the way of name-brand products, the retailers employ a number of other techniques to cut overhead, including building smaller stores – typically just a third the size of most supermarkets. Aldi requires customers to pay 25 cents to use a shopping cart – a fee that’s refunded if the cart is returned to a corral at the front of the store at the end of their visit. It also charges for bags and requires shoppers to sack their own purchases at a counter just beyond the cash registers.
Site work for an Aldi store at 1415 FM 685 in Pflugerville is already underway, according to city spokeswoman Terri Toledo, and the city’s Development Services Department is currently reviewing a building permit for the location.
An opening date hasn’t been announced.
Aldi already has a substantial presence in Texas, with dozens of stores in the Houston and Dallas areas. In Central Texas, it has locations in Bryan, Killeen and Temple – all at least an hour away from Austin.
The chain, which has nearly 1,600 stores, recently announced plans to renovate 1,300 of its existing locations and build 900 new ones.
“We pioneered a grocery model built around value, convenience, quality and selection and now Aldi is one of America’s favorite and fastest-growing retailers,” CEO Jason Hart said in a written statement. “We’re growing at a time when other retailers are struggling. We are giving our customers what they want, which is more organic produce, antibiotic-free meats and fresh healthier options across the store, all at unmatched prices.”
While Aldi has been operating in the United States for years, Lidl is new to the country. The chain opened its first American stores – 20 of them – this month in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“Lidl is grocery shopping refreshed, retooled and rethought to make life better for all our customers,” Lidl U.S. president and CEO Brendan Proctor said in a written statement. “From our selection of sustainable products like our certified fresh and frozen seafood to top-quality wines from around the world available at market-beating prices, our team puts extra effort and attention into each product we put on our shelves. When customers shop at Lidl, they will experience less complexity, lower prices, better choices and greater confidence.”
By this time next year, plans call for Lidl to have about 100 U.S. stores. Representatives for the company have requested rezoning for a piece of property in Kyle. The 4.6-acre site, currently zoned multifamily residential, is at South FM 1626 and Marketplace Avenue, immediately adjacent to an existing H-E-B-anchored shopping center.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the rezoning request last week, records show, and the proposal is now awaiting final City Council approval.
Lidl spokesman Will Harwood said the grocer wasn’t ready yet to share details about the planned Kyle store or others that might be in the works in the Austin metro area.
“We just opened our first stores in the U.S. last week, and are focused on establishing our operations along the East Coast at this time,” Harwood told the American-Statesman.
Several Central Texas cities – including Austin, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock and San Marcos – contacted by the Statesman said they had no pending permits for Lidl stores.