Big grocery chain 'looking for sites all across’ Georgia

Grocery chain Lidl has announced plans to open a distribution center in Cartersville and create 250 jobs, suggesting that opening its first stores in Georgia are coming.

That means fresh competition for shoppers loyal to chains such as Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, Ingles and Aldi.

“Georgia is absolutely a focus for us,” company spokesman Will Harwood told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are looking for sites all across the state.”

Paul Nair is the owner of Savi Provisions a chain of little gourmet and organic grocery stores Atlanta. He’s bracing for the impact of Amazon’s plan to buy Whole Foods.

Lidl, which is rhymes with “beetle,” is based in Germany and has more than 10,000 stores in 28 nations.

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Over the last year the chain’s name has been hinted at in association with potential developments around Georgia, including with projects proposed in Sandy Springs, Mableton, Newnan and Pooler, Ga., near Savannah. Earlier this year, though, the grocer apparently pulled out of a project proposed in Sandy Springs.

Harwood declined to comment on specific store locations being contemplated in Georgia.

(David Keith)

The distribution center in Bartow County would be Lidl’s fourth regional headquarters and distribution center in the U.S., joining others in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland, according to a Monday announcement by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. The 250 jobs planned there would be created over five years, along with a total investment of $100 million, according to the state. 

Lidl recently opened 10 stores in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, with a total of 20 planned this summer and up to 100 expected over the next year along the East Coast.

Lidl is known as a discount grocer, focusing on stores with a small footprint. But the chain is marketing itself in the U.S. as the place for top quality items at the lowest price.

Other shakeups are underway in the grocery business nationally and in Georgia, including the ramifications of Amazon’s push to buy Whole Foods.

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