Aldi focused on fresh in Florida
Aldi's $5 billion plan to conquer food retail in the U.S. was on display Thursday, as the retailer debuted a modern new store format in Tampa, Fla.
The company held a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning at its newest store, at 10419 Sheldon Road in the Citrus Park neighborhood of Tampa Bay.
The new store is part of Aldi's aggressive $5 billion investment plan announced last year to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022.
The initiative – which will make Aldi the third-largest food retailer by count in the country, serving more than 100 million customers per month – is bringing a modern design to new and existing stores, with open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly retail practices, such as energy-saving refrigeration and LED lighting.
"We pioneered a grocery model built around value, convenience, quality and selection, and now Aldi is one of America's favorite and fastest-growing retailers," said Jason Hart, Aldi US' CEO. "We're growing at a time when other retailers are struggling. We are giving our customers what they want, which is more organic produce, antibiotic-free meats and fresh healthier options across the store, all at unmatched prices up to 50 percent lower than traditional grocery stores."
A sign of the aggressiveness of Aldi's plan to grow market share is evident at the new Tampa location: The company built the 17,000-square-foot store in the parking lot of a brand new Costco warehouse.
Yet opening new stores and remodeling existing locations is only part of Aldi's plan.
The retailer is also laser-focused on constantly redesigning and upgrading its store format in order to continually improve the store experience. An Aldi employee at the Tampa store opening told Retail Leader that the company is "always in redesign mode."
From the looks of the dozens of happy customers at the new Tampa store on Thursday, the company's latest redesign is a hit.
Shoppers grabbed oversized carts (similar to the cart sizes at Costco) and walked into a store that felt like Whole Foods lite.
Soft lighting highlighted signage (below) focusing on fresh items, including robust produce, dairy and bakery sections. Shoppers strolled past French brioche and organic eggs that were priced considerably cheaper than area stores.
In the last few years, Aldi has stepped up its assortment with new product lines that have quickly become customer favorites, including a fast-growing organic selection, USDA Choice meats, the liveGfree gluten-free product line, the SimplyNature line of products free from over 125 artificial ingredients and preservatives, and the Never Any! line of meats free from antibiotics, added hormones and animal by-products.
Aldi also now carries a full line of baby products, called Little Journey, which offers customers diapers, wipes, training pants, formula, organic food and snacks.
On Thursday, shoppers seemed especially attracted to the Aldi Finds section (below): an area with premium food and household products that are only in stores for a limited time. Aldi says the Finds vary week to week and themes usually match the season. At the Tampa store, customers could shop for Easter chocolates, gardening supplies and allergy appliances in the Finds aisle.
Aldi and other discounters' version of "quality at a low price" are putting pressure on all food retailers to improve the store experience and cut prices.
Aldi now operates 1,750 stores in 35 states. The chain says it serves more than 40 million customers monthly.