Shopping Centers Today

NOV 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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26 S C T / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 Nimble reboot Lidl is tweaking its U.S. expansion strategy By Beth Mattson-Teig I t has been nearly 18 months since German grocery giant Lidl opened its rst U.S. stores and boldly announced plans to have about 100 stores operating along the East Coast by the summer of 2018. •ough Lidl fell short of that initial goal, the company is going ahead with expansion, albeit more slowly than planned. A€er opening three units in September, Lidl's U.S. store count is at 57 across six states: Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Lidl has a history of ambitious expansion aims. Having opened its very rst store in 1973, the company, known for low prices on its grocery, health-and-beauty and household products, now operates some 10,500 feet. "•ey were very quick to realize hiccups, and they have made changes," said Long. "•ey have slowed their growth on purpose, to make correc- tions, because I really believe they are in this for the long term." Lidl had announced plans for ex- pansion in Texas and was seeking sites there in 2016 and 2017. •e company had in fact made some moves on a few places, with either signed letters of intent or completed sales, but now any such plans for Texas appear to have been put on ice, according to Jason Baker, a principal at Houston-based real estate brokerage Baker Katz. In talking to Lidl's people and re›ecting on the company's real estate decisions, S T O R E F R O N T S stores across 28 countries. "•eir initial launch was weaker than they expected for a variety of reasons," said Tina Long, Charlotte, N.C.– based vice president of retail advisory services with Avison Young. Lidl's initial focus was primarily on acquiring sites for the ground-up develop- ment of freestanding stores, notes Long. •e company had a "build it and people will come" way of thinking, she says, but now man- agement is recalibrating its approach. (Avison Young has provided evalu- ation services for several sites Lidl looked at in the Carolinas over the past few years.) Lidl is taking a broader view now that includes acquisition or leasing of existing spaces, says Long. Moreover, the company is focused on denser communities and on strong co-ten- ancy setups with other national re- tailers within established, strong-traf- c trade areas. And the store size has been reduced from 36,000 square feet to about 15,000 to 25,000 square

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