German grocery retailer Lidl looks to expand in Ohio

German grocery retailer Lidl is descending upon the United States with stores popping up across the East Coast, and Ohio could be the chain’s next spot for expansion.

The popular discount grocery chain is rapidly opening stores, with its U.S. headquarters situated in Arlington, Va. A spokesman told the Dayton Daily News that the grocery chain is “actively looking at sites across the state.” The spokesman also said it is too early to forecast opening time-lines or estimate how many stores could open in Ohio.

The chain, which is known for its discounted prices on food products, is focused on its first round of 10 stores that just opened in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Lidl is also known for its private labels and innovative store layouts — and it even sells “fashionable but casual” clothing.

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Lidl is looking for possible new store sites in Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware, according to Lidl’s website. Lidl plans to create more than 5,000 jobs in the U.S. in the next year, and will open up to 100 stores on the East Coast by summer 2018.

Beavercreek Planning Director Jeff McGrath said late Monday that he had received an inquiry within the last two months from someone looking for potential sites for a grocery concept in the city, but the representative did not disclose what company he represented. There has been no follow-up yet, McGrath said.

According to Lidl officials, potential sites should be: located within current targeted Lidl areas; a minimum of 3.5 acres to accommodate a 36,000-square-foot stand-alone store with room for at least 150 parking spaces; positioned in an established retail location; within a dense population area within three miles. Possible sites must also see traffic of more than 20,000 vehicles come through the area daily, and must be zoned for grocery retail use.

So, what else can U.S. consumers expect? The stores opened so far in the States are larger than the ones overseas, but they have the same bring-your-own bag rules, according to The Virginian-Pilot. At the new Lidl store in Virginia Beach, which opened last month, appliances and shoes are on sale next to regular grocery items and even inflatable kayaks.

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Lidl first opened in 1973, about 25 miles south of Frankfurt, Germany. The chain didn’t start expanding outside of Germany until the 1990s, and now Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries.

The German company’s expansion into the U.S. comes as the grocery industry heads into a period of major disruption. Amazon’s pending purchase of Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion has major chains and independent grocers scrambling to offer consumers the latest trends of shopping convenience like online ordering and home delivery.

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