REAL ESTATE

Lidl opens its first round of U.S. stores

BY By Marianne Wilson

The wait is over.

German discount grocery retailer Lidl made its hotly-awaited debut in the United States on Thursday, opening the first 10 of 20 locations it plan to open over the summer. The chain expects to have 100 stores up and running within a year.

Six of the newly opened stores are in North Carolina, with locations in Greenville, Sanford, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Kinston, and Winston-Salem. Two stores are in Virginia, with one in Virginia Beach and the other in Hampton. And one is in South Carolina, in Spartanburg.

Lidl, which operates 10,000 stores in 27 countries, is known for its low prices. Prior to opening, the retailer said that shoppers could expect grocery prices that are up to 50% less than other supermarkets in the United States.

Lidl's U.S. stores have an average 20,000 sq.ft. footprint, with and only six aisles. The modern, warehouse-reminiscent design, with natural wood accents. The merchandise mix includes standard grocery items, along with an on-site European-styled bakery, cheeses, fresh and frozen seafood, wines, organic foods and gluten-free options. House brands make up about 90% of the inventory.

In addition, the stores feature an edited selection of non-food products that will rotate and appear in stores for a limited time.

To see Lild's opening deals, check out the company's first U.S. circular.

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REAL ESTATE

U.K. sporting goods chain acquires two U.S. retailers

BY By Marianne Wilson

Sports Direct, the largest sporting goods retailer in the United Kingdom, has expanded its presence in the United States.

The company announced that it has completed its acquisition of Bob's Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports. It will initially operate a total of some 50 stores in the Northeast and five EMS outdoor adventure schools, along with e-commerce sites for both brands.

In April, Sports Direct received the approval of the Delaware Bankruptcy Court to acquire certain assets of Eastern Outfitters, owners of Bob's Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports. Eastern Outfitters filed for bankruptcy in February.

"Adding these reputable and established retailers to Sports Direct's portfolio of holdings in the U.S. will afford us a strong platform with which to rapidly expand our store and web presence, in this critically important market," stated a representative for Sports Direct, which operates almost 800 stores whcih across the UK, continental Europe and Asia.

Sports Direct said it plans to expand product lines in the acquired Bob's and EMS stores and websites, including the U.S. debut of an extensive portfolio of European brands. The company will honor gift cards and un-expired member rewards that pre-dated the acquisition, and will enhance the member rewards program by offering member-only offers.

In addition to operating retail stores, Sports Direct owns a portfolio of over 30 globally recognized brands, including Slazenger, Everlast, Lonsdale, Karrimor, No Fear and Kangol. It also has a stake in Finish Line.

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REAL ESTATE

Is Amazon Go readying for prime time?

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A recent job listing by Amazon has raised speculation that the online giant plans to roll out its checkout-free convenience store concept, Amazon Go.

The online giant recently posted a job listing seeking a senior real estate manager for Amazon Go. The role will be based in Seattle and will include travel.

Amazon posted a laundry list of executive responsibilities for the job. These include: developing and executing a strategic real estate plan; site selection and acquisition; developing relationships with key landlords, developers, and brokers; and collaborating with architecture, construction, and engineering teams.

As for job qualifications, Amazon is looking for someone with 10-plus years experience in real estate planning, financial analysis, and transaction management. The candidate should also have experience in managing third party service providers, including brokers and outside legal counsel.

Amazon Go debuted in December, in Seattle, in a beta format open only to Amazon employees. (It was expected to open to the public in early 2017, but its opening has been delayed.) The 1,800 sq. ft. store is powered by what Amazon calls “just walkout technology," which allows it to be completely free of any type of checkout.

Shoppers click on the new Amazon Go app as they enter the store, and hold their smartphone to a scanner similar to an airport security line. Every time the customer picks up an item, it is automatically added to their virtual cart. (If the shopper puts the item back on the shelf, the item is automatically removed from the cart.) Once the customer leaves the store, their purchased is billed to their Amazon.com account.

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