BEAR – Lidl, a discount grocery store making its push into the American market from its German home, will build its next Delaware store off U.S. 40 near Salem Church Road.
A record, or final, plan for a 29,089-square-foot grocery store at 1604 Pulaksi Highway was posted by the New Castle County Department of Land Use on Dec. 23. The roughly 4.5-acre, triangular-shaped parcel will also feature a separate, 7,200-square-foot retail store, according to the plans. A commercial rezoning by the county council in August paved the way for the project.
“We are in the early entitlement phases of this particular location, and it’s too early to offer specific details or timelines for the store at this point,” Chandler Ebeier, a Lidl spokesman, told the Delaware Business Times when asked about the location.
The site was formerly home to Countryside Nursery and Garden Center, which closed in July. Its owner Keith Harris wrote in an email to customers that the sale of his property was “initiated only after careful consideration.” Harris still owns the property, according to state land records.
Lidl opened its first Delaware store in Middletown off U.S. 301 in August 2017. Another proposed site off Del. 4 near Newark fell through after some concerns were voiced by neighbors and the company scaled back its expansion plan.
Since that time, Lidl has broken ground on a Dover location off U.S. 13. It bought that roughly 7.5-acre parcel for $3.4 million in 2018. That location will also see the building of a secondary retail space after original plans called for a store about 10,000 square feet larger than the one to be built now.
At the Bear location, the supermarket will compete against a Food Lion location directly across the highway as well as an Acme in Fox Run Shopping Center and Giant in Eden Square Shopping Center within 2 miles of the site.
While well-known in Europe for its competitive prices, no-frills approach and diverse, non-food offerings, Lidl is still trying to gain a foothold in America. It follows in the footsteps of its main German competitor Aldi, which came to the U.S. more than 40 years ago and now counts nearly 1,900 stores – its parent company also owns the popular Trader Joe’s brand, which adds more than 500 stores of its own.
Lidl arrived stateside in 2015 with plans to open 100 stores by the end of 2017 served by several distribution centers focused on the East Coast. Those plans stalled, however, after some early stumbles.
It learned that its stores were too big and too far flung from population centers, according to analysts, and began planning smaller stores closer to population centers. The private company with 10,500 stores worldwide also shook up its American leadership in 2018, bringing in Johannes Fieber as president and CEO.
Fieber has overseen the acquisition of 27 Best Market stores in New York and New Jersey, growing the company’s presence in the desired New York City metropolitan area. He also negotiated a partnership with Boxed, a direct-to-consumer online discount retailer, earlier this year.
In May, Lidl announced 25 locations in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia that will push it over its initial goal of 100 stores by early 2020.
“We are committed to long-term growth in the United States and always strive to locate in the most convenient locations for our shoppers,” Fieber said in announcing the list.
By Jacob Owens