German grocer Lidl has started seeking approvals from local cities for new stores and has purchased land in North Texas as it prepares for its U.S. expansion.
A search of area county records found a half a dozen locations where Lidl has either purchased land or set in motion planning and zoning requests in Frisco, McKinney, Little Elm, North Richland Hills, Rockwall and Wylie.
One more site, an undisclosed location in southwest Dallas, is expected to be on the city’s planning and zoning agenda soon.
So far, Lidl has spent more than $10 million on land purchases in North Texas, according to county records.
Lidl hasn’t responded to a request for comment. Last fall, a spokesman for Lidl confirmed to The Dallas Morning News that the company was beginning to scout for sites in Texas.
Local cities are aware of Lidl’s interest in opening stores here. “We’d love to see them in Grand Prairie,” said Marty Wieder, director of Grand Prairie’s economic development.
Lidl said in February that it would open the first 20 of its U.S. stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia this summer as part of 100 planned openings within a year. The U.S. grocery industry is looking at Europe and worried it’s about to meet another new formidable competitor in Lidl.
Lidl and its chief rival Aldi have been growing across Europe and giving conventional grocers a tough time. Lidl is often compared to Aldi for its efficient operations and emphasis on private label foods.
Aldi has operated in the U.S. for years, but started expanding to new markets in the 2000s including Texas in 2010. It has gained market share as it expanded in recent years and stymied existing grocers’ ability to grow sales. Aldi and Trader Joe’s, which both have corporate family roots in Germany, get credit for making more Americans open to trying products not branded by the big grocery aisle powerhouse brands such as Kraft and Nabisco.
In February, Aldi said it planned to spend $1.6 billion nationwide to expand and remodel its stores, including its 95 stores in Texas. Some stores are gaining 1,000 to 1,500 square feet to make room for more fresh foods including produce, dairy, meat and baked goods, the retailer said.
On its website, Lidl said its development needs are four acres to build a 36,000-square-foot store, which are about twice the size of a typical Aldi.
Retail analyst Deborah Weinswig of Fung Global Retail & Technology has forecast Lidl’s first full-year U.S. sales of $1 billion with 120 stores in 2018. Sales could rise to $4 billion in 2020 with 300 stores.
Lidl faces a race for space, Weinswig wrote in a report, “Given the proposed pace of store openings, there is a risk that Lidl will pursue quantity of physical space over quality of location in terms of shopper access and visibility.”
Lidl, which is pronounced like needle, has opened an office in Farmers Branch and may be opening its first Dallas store in southwest Dallas.
Dallas District 3 City Councilman Casey Thomas posted on his Facebook page recently that the Summit Parc area in his southwest Dallas district “will get the first Lidl grocery store in Texas.” He talked about it at a community meeting earlier this week.
An engineering firm has filed a request with Rockwall’s planning and zoning commission for a 36,000-square-foot Lidl store on undeveloped land on the northeast corner of Quail Run and Goliad.
Similar requests have been filed in Wylie and Little Elm.
So far, Lidl has made limited announcements about its East Coast plans. According to local newspaper reports, Lidl has hosted hiring events in Charlotte and other cities. It’s also built distribution centers in Virginia and North Carolina, according to its website. In 2015, the company opened its U.S. office in Arlington, Va.