Aranda Replaces Marasch As Top European Exec Overseeing Lidl US

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Lidl has named a new German-based executive to oversee its operations in the U.S. Michael Aranda, former CEO of Lidl Spain, has replaced Daniel Marasch as the new German head, according to a published report in German trade publication Lebensmittel Zeitung.

Brendan Proctor remains as president and chief executive of Lidl’s U.S. business, based in Arlington, VA. Aranda will operate from Lidl’s corporate headquarters in Neckarsulm, Germany.

According to the Lebensmittel Zeitung report, sales at Lidl’s 37 U.S. stores have so far been “frighteningly weak,” leading to speculation that the retailer is unhappy with current U.S. management’s effectiveness. Aranda has 17 years of experience with the company and a reputation for being a disciplined leader who effectively carries out the company’s vision. Overall, according to the story, Lidl wants to combat its U.S. problems by instituting a more disciplined approach to operations here. Proctor, who once headed Lidl’s Irish operation, has been the president of Lidl-U.S. since March 2016.

Observations made by Food World, after visiting more than a dozen stores multiple times, indicate a wide swing in sales. Departments such as wine and bakery have remained consistently strong, and Lidl’s pricing structure remains aggressive, but certain perishable areas – meat, seafood and some produce – appear sub-par and general merchandise traffic was viewed as disappointing considering the amount of space has Lidl devoted to it.

With 37 stores currently in operation, the company officially made its U.S. debut on June 15 when it opened the first 10 of what is expected to be more than 100 stores in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast during the next six months. The initial group of stores that opened are located in Virginia Beach, VA; Hampton, VA; Kinston, NC; Greenville, NC; Sanford, NC; Wilson, NC; Rocky Mount, NC; Winston-Salem, NC; Spartanburg, SC; and Greenville, SC. A second round of stores opened were located in: Culpeper, VA; Chesapeake, VA; Norfolk, VA; Newport News; two in Richmond, VA (West Broad Street and S. Laburnum Avenue); N. Chesterfield, VA; Havelock, NC; Rockingham, NC; and Wake Forest, NC. The stores that opened during the company’s debut period are supplied from two distribution centers in Fredericksburg, VA and Mebane, NC. A third warehouse, located in Elkton, MD, is still under construction and will service what is expected to be 50 Lidl stores in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It should be completed by the end of this year. A fourth depot has recently been announced for Cartersville, GA which is slated to open in late 2018. Lidl plans on having about 100 stores open by June 2018 in the New Jersey-to-Georgia corridor. Additionally, Lidl recently acknowledged that it will be opening stores in Ohio with about half a dozen locations reportedly secured. Last month, news came that a site had been confirmed for Decatur, AL and as previously reported, the German discounter will also be entering the large Texas market with about 11 new sites. Lidl recently set up a field office in suburban Dallas, TX.

When it developed its U.S. strategy more than three years ago, the division of the Schwarz Gruppe elected to acquire all of its U.S. real estate. That’s an expensive proposition and one that gave Lidl full control of its sites, but in many cases, prevented the company from gaining the best locations in many market areas it will enter according to many trade analysts.