The 2018 Retailers of the Year Part 3

Rapid Growth for European Grocer

By Kyle Swartz

The German supermarket chain Lidl opened its first U.S. location in June 2017. Since then the company has added 46 more locations, mostly along the east coast. The company traces its grocery roots back to 1973, and competes in America with the likes of Aldi, Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Each location averages about 20,000 sq. ft. of sales space, with natural light, an efficient layout and also an in-store bakery that makes fresh bread throughout the day. Every location also boasts diverse and curated wine and beer departments.

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How has Lidl achieved such rapid growth in such little time in America? The company keeps a close ear to what its customers say, and then adapts accordingly.

Our customers love our private-label wines, so over the past year weve brought in more private-label options as well as an array of promotional, limited-time wines that rotate monthly or bi-monthly, says William Harwood, Lidl U.S. director of communications. These limited-time-only feature various styles from a renowned wine-producing region, which we hope encourages our shoppers to explore more styles and increase their knowledge of the wine world.

Lidl operates in more than 27 European countries, which lets them import top wines from the continent into America for affordable prices. In the U.S. the company stocks approximately 120 private-label wines, which Harwood believes are among the best values in the store.

Our DOCG Italian Prosecco was awarded Sparkling Wine of the Year by the INDY International Wine Competition last year. It retails for just $8.99, a fraction of what an authentic DOCG Italian Prosecco costs in a specialty wine shop, he says.

In the past year, Lidl has offered a variety of limited-time wine promotions, which our customers have loved, Harwood says.  These promotions offer a more focused range of specialized varietals or types of wine, delivered at incredible prices. Since launching in America, a few examples of these promotions include Rosé Discoveries, plus French and Italian wine fairs.

To stock its wine selection, Lidl works with Adam Lapierre, one of only 50 or so Masters of Wine in the U.S. Lapierre curated their entire private-label collection. His knowledge and expertise helps empower all employees to better understand the range, including with unique serving suggestions and tasting notes on the wines themselves, Harwood says.

Lidl also carries a range of private-label beers. These include European styles, like a Belgian Tripel, as well as American crafts, like their American IPA.

Digitally, Lidl runs a loyalty program through its mobile app, MyLidl, which feeds offers to members on a weekly basis.

Also, the company has already embraced charitable efforts in their newest country of expansion. We are a proud sponsor of Feeding America, and have donated more than 1 million pounds of food to local food banks to this charity this year alone, Harwood says. Our teams have also donated more than 30,000 hours of volunteer time this year. We are proud to be active members of our communities.

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