German discount supermarket chain Aldi seeks an edge in the United States over new competitors through energy efficient upgrades to hundreds of stores. This year, Aldi announced a $1.6 billion investment in remodeling 1,300 US stores by 2020.
Changes include creating open ceilings, adding natural lighting, LED fixtures, using energy-saving refrigeration, and relying on environmentally friendly building materials. The move is being viewed as a way to help drive down operating costs and compete with other stores.
Another German discount supermarket chain, Lidl, which operates more than 10,000 stores in Europe, opened its first US stores in June. Forbes predicted that their entrance could trigger a price war with stores like Aldi, Target, and Walmart. Both Lidl and Aldi build smaller size stores to keep overhead costs down. Lidl’s approach calls for 20,000-square-foot stores that have six aisles on average, MarketWatch reported.
Aldi is phasing out refrigerants with high global warming potential and currently uses ammonia for the main refrigeration systems in warehouses. Two of the chain’s stores in New York received GreenChill Platinum Certification, the company reported. In addition, Aldi is investing in solar production. The regional headquarters in California has 8,208 solar panels expected to power 60% of the warehouse’s utilities there and the California stores will have solar panels on any roof where it’s viable.
Recently Aldi announced that, in addition to the remodeling program, the company plans to invest $3.4 billion in expanding to 2,500 stores in the US by 2022. Once that happens, Aldi predicts the chain will serve more than 100 million customers monthly, making it the third largest grocery store by count in the country.