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Aldi details planned ‘coast-to-coast expansion’

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BATAVIA, Ill. — Aldi this month revealed new details of its “coast-to-coast expansion” plans, which call for the addition of 100 stores in 2021, the extension of its curbside pickup service to another 500 stores, and a new regional headquarters to facilitate the discount grocer’s push into the Gulf Coast region.

The announcement came as Aldi broke ground on construction of the distribution center, in Loxley, Ala., that will serve new stores in southern Alabama and throughout the Florida Panhandle, and will support Aldi’s expansion into Louisiana, which will be its 38th state.

Aldi currently operates some 2,070 stores.

Aldi said the addition of curbside pickup at another 500 stores would take the total number of stores offering the service to about 1,200 stores.

“We’re incredibly proud to continue growing in all aspects of our business, from opening new stores to enhancing our e-commerce offerings, especially in light of the challenges businesses have faced in the last year,” said Jason Hart, chief executive officer of ALDI U.S.

In 2017 Aldi announced a $5 billion blueprint to become the third-largest U.S. grocer, behind Walmart and Kroger Co., by 2022. In a report issued as Aldi was launching its U.S. expansion, The Hartman Group described the Germany-based retailer as “a major force that is on the verge of changing the grocery retailing landscape,” thanks in large part to its ”relentless pursuit of perfecting its own store brands portfolio and unique shopping experience” at its no-frills, self-serve stores designed to keep prices below those offered by competitors.

The current phase of Aldi’s expansion is focused on Arizona, California, Florida and the Northeast.

Aldi added about 100 stores in 2020. Its expansion plan also involves updates to existing stores and the debut of hundreds of new locations.

The company said it continues to expand the appeal of its stores by increasing its fresh food selection by 40%, with a focus on new produce, meat and organic options, as well as easy-to-prepare foods, while continuing to emphasize low prices.

According to Aldi’s website, shoppers encounter “more ‘mmm’ per square foot” at its modestly sized stores, which typically feature 10,000 square feet of selling space.

Aldi has begun to experiment with larger stores in urban locales, including a store with a 15,000-square-foot sales floor that opened December 3 in downtown Philadelphia, on the ground floor of a mixed-use tower with 475 apartments and a preschool. It’s the chain’s 11th Philadelphia location, and the eighth new Aldi store in the city since 2015.

Aldi said the 564,000-square-foot regional headquarters and distribution center going up in Loxley will be its sixth such facility in the South when it opens next year. It will include sustainable building elements such as solar panels, LED lighting and an environmentally friendly refrigeration system. The facility will serve up to 100 stores in Alabama, southern Georgia, Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana. The company aims to add as many as 35 stores in the Gulf Coast region by the end of 2022. The first two stores in the region, located in Tallahassee, Fla., are due to open later this year.