It will be more than a year until Lidl converts the first of 27 metro New York Best Market stores to the limited discounter’s own banner. The privately held German merchant, whose U.S. headquarters are based in Arlington, VA, confirmed that the first of several waves of openings on Long Island will begin in early 2020. The first converted stores will all be on Long Island (where 24 of the 27 stores are located), in Plainview, West Babylon, Huntington Station, and Center Moriches.

“We are happy to soon bring Lidl’s unique and fresh approach to grocery shopping to Long Island,” said Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl US. “Our new stores will allow customers to save time and money each week with a simple and efficient shopping experience.  We also look forward to celebrating our grand openings with many familiar faces from the local Best Market teams.”

In addition to the four Best Market conversions, Lidl said it would open another 21 discount markets in the Mid-Atlantic corridor.

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The German discounter, which operates more than 10,000 stores in 28 European countries, opened its first U.S. store in June 2017, two years after announcing its intention to expand to the United States. It currently operates 65 stores in the U.S., from Georgia north to New York. The chain’s first store in the Empire State opened last December in Staten Island. On May 1, it debuted its most recent store, in Easton, PA.

Lidl’s original plan had been to build new stores on its own real estate rather than acquiring existing operations or leasing sites. However, finding locations in more urban areas proved more difficult than doing so in the less densely populated Southeastern markets it first entered.

In November 2018, the company announced it would acquire 27 of Bethpage, NY-based Best Markets’ stores owned by the Raitses family, which started the regional retailer in 1994. The deal was finalized in January of this year.

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The Best Markets stores Lidl acquired that are not located on Long Island are in Harlem (Manhattan), Astoria (Queens) and its lone New Jersey unit in Holmdel. A Best Market store in Newington, CT was not included in the deal.

Now, the discounter has disclosed its initial plans for Long Island. The current Best Market in Hicksville will close and will be replaced by a new unit in Plainview, about four miles away. Another new Lidl will open in Center Moriches at the site of a former Waldbaums space. Those two locations were stores that Best Market had already planned to open before the sale to Lidl. Two current Best Market stores – West Babylon and Huntington Station – will be remodeled and converted to the Lidl banner. All of these changes are set to be completed by early 2020, according to the company. Lidl said it expects the conversions of all of the Best Market stores to be completed within three years.

Lidl, which is a limited assortment discounter, does not operate service deli or meat departments and the new and converted stores will offer those items in refrigerated cases, along with a heavy assortment of center store goods, many sold under Lidl’s private label brands. That’s a big change from the Best Market format which prioritized perishables. The stores will have an average of 20,000 square feet of selling space, about  one-third less space than the typical supermarket and smaller than the average Best Market unit.

The company also said it has committed to offering all legacy Best Market team members guaranteed opportunities with Lidl in positions that offer wages and benefits that stay the same or are improved. Best Market employed approximately 2,500 associates.

And just before presstime, Lidl said it would open 21 other new stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia by spring of 2020.

That would mean that by the end of next year, Lidl expects to have more than 100 stores open that would create more than 1,000 new jobs across nine states. Lidl originally said it would have its first 100 U.S stores open by June 2018.

“We are committed to long-term growth in the United States and always strive to locate in the most convenient locations for our shoppers,” said Fieber. “These new stores are part of the next steps in our U.S. expansion. Over the next year, we are excited to introduce more customers to Lidl’s award-winning quality, reliably low prices, and convenient shopping experience.”

Lidl also announced that it will close two North Carolina stores this summer – in Rockingham and Kinston. Those employees will be given the opportunity to relocate and work at other Lidl stores within the retailer’s market area. The discounter also announced it will soon hold a hiring event to fill around 100 new positions at its regional headquarters and distribution center in Alamance County, NC.

The new Lidl stores that are slated to open are located in (by state): Pennsylvania – E. Butler Street, Philadelphia; E. Ridge Pike, Royersford; West Ridge Pike, Trooper; South Richland Avenue, York; New Jersey – New Bridge Road, Bergenfield; U.S. 9, Lacey. Maryland – Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville; Baltimore Avenue, College Park; Marlboro Pike, District Heights; Dual Hwy., Hagerstown; Mission Drive, Lanham; Belair Road, Nottingham; Promenade Place, Waldorf; Virginia – Virginia Beach; North Carolina – NC 55, Cary; Monroe Road, Charlotte; W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro; Margaret Wallace Road, Matthews; Buffaloe Road, Raleigh; Eastwood Road, Wilmington. South Carolina – Summit Pkwy., Columbia.