DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Aldi accelerates store expansion as supermarket wars heat up

BY Marianne Wilson

A German discount grocer has set its sights on becoming the third-largest American food retailer by store count, behind Walmart and Kroger.

Aldi said it plans to invest $3.4 billion to open 900 stores by the end of 2022, giving it 2,500 stores nationwide. The grocer currently operates approximately 1,600 stores in 35 U.S. states. Earlier this year, Aldi announced it would invest $1.6 billion in to remodel 1,300 of its stores by 2020.

Aldi's $5 billion investment come at a time of intense competition in the supermarket industry, particularly in the discount niche. On June 15, another German discount grocer, Lidl, will make its U.S. debut, opening the first of 20 stores it plans to open this summer in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Lidl expects to have up to 100 stores across the East Coast

by 2018.

In May, Lidl said it would price products up to 50% lower than rivals. Meanwhile, Walmart is also testing lower prices in select states as it look to win back its position as the low-price leader.

"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," said Jason Hart, CEO. "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 up to 50% lower than traditional grocery stores."

Aldi has been upgrading the look of its stores with a more modern design that includes open ceilings, wider aisles and more natural lighting. It also is adding more fresh foods, gluten-free options, sustainable seafood, specialty wines and cheeses, and organic items from its SimplyNature line.

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DEALS

Canadian REIT buys five grocery-anchored centers

BY Al Urbanski

The Toronto-based Slate Retail REIT announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire five grocery-anchored centers in Florida and Pennsylvania for a total of $105 million.

“This five-asset portfolio meets all of our acquisition criteria — attractive returns, markets we like that add scale, pricing well below replacement cost, strong anchors, and in-place rents that are below market,” said Slate CEO Greg Stevenson.

The five properties add up to 654,410 sq. ft. of GLA, make the per-square-foot price $160. The centers are all anchored by supermarkets and are 94% leased, according to Slate. The name of the seller was not disclosed.

The acquired properties:

Property MSA Anchor Square Feet
Bellview Plaza Pensacola, Fla. Publix 82,910
Cordova Commons Pensacola, Fla. The Fresh Market 164,343
Wedgewood Commons Port St. Luce, Fla. Publix 165,308
Shops at Cedar Point Allentown, Pa. Weis Markets 130,553
Northland Center State College, Pa. Giant Food 111,496

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C-SUITE

Online jeweler snags former Target exec as CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Blue Nile has a new chief executive.

Jason Goldberger was named the online retailer’s new president and CEO. He will replace Harvey Kanter, who will remain on the company’s board as chairman.

Goldberger has more than 20 years of executive leadership in merchandising, digital innovation, marketing, and product management across leading online retail organizations. Most recently, he spent almost four years as Target’s chief digital officer and president of target. He left in September during a management shake-up that folded his responsibilities under the role of the CIO, according to ReCode.

Prior to Target, he served as executive VP, home, kids taste and business development at Gilt.com. He was also senior VP of marketing and merchandising at online home furnishings retailer, Hayneedle, and before that, Goldberger spent almost eight years as director and general manager at Amazon. He started his career as a buyer for companies such as Linens ’n Things and QVC.

“We will continue to build on our leadership position to drive profitable growth through enhanced marketing, investments in the user experience, improved sourcing, and a continued focus on offering the most compelling diamond and fine jewelry assortment in the world,” Goldberger reported.

Goldberger is joining Blue Nile at an exciting time. The online jeweler went private in February when it was acquired by an investor group comprised of Bain Capital Private Equity, Bow Street and Adama Partners for $40.75 per share in cash.

Founded online in 1999, Blue Nile is credited with disrupting the diamond and engagement ring market, simplifying and bringing transparency to the buying process. It features some 200,000 diamonds that can be matched with over 200 settings and is the largest online seller of diamonds.

In June 2015, the company opened its first brick-and-mortar store (which the company calls a Webroom), in Garden City, New York. It has since opened an additional four locations.

“As the board and I discussed succession planning, we agreed this is the right time to bring in a new CEO to lead the company’s next phase of growth,” said Kanter. “Jason is an experienced leader with deep e-commerce experience who will work closely with the team to innovate, secure, and further our position as the smartest, easiest, and most pressure-free way for consumers to buy a diamond. I look forward to working with him as Blue Nile continues to create superior customer experiences.”

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