German Grocery Chain Aldi Expanding in New England

No-frills chain looking at new locations for warehouse, retail locations


Industry analysts say Aldi may be planning to open 200 stores in the United States in the next three years.

The food market, in general, isn't growing, making competitors search for ways to target specific consumers, Stern said.

"Rather than try to take on those entrenched grocery chains, they nibble around the edges and go after the niches -- the markets a traditional grocery chain can't serve," Stern said.

While many stores are courting an upscale clientele, Aldi is targeting the downscale market, Stern said. But its customers don't think they're skimping on quality by shopping at Aldi.

Does the store's selection of frozen entrees and fish fillets look familiar? Does it invoke a deja vu-like response, as if the freezer might have been lifted from a Trader Joe's?

Good guess. Aldi Group owns Trader Joe's grocery stores, which it purchased in 1979. And according to Forbes.com, the company owns an 8 percent stake in Albertsons LLC grocery stores.

Taking a cue from Costco, Aldi Stores also stock some general merchandise items, such as crockpots, digital TVs and the occasional $16.99 children's table-and-chair set. They appear haphazardly, advertised in the in-store flier, "Next Week @ Aldi."

"They use general merchandise to create traffic in the stores," Stern said. "It's a little bit like the Costco treasure hunt stuff."

For the past seven or eight years, Aldi has plodded along with just four stores in Connecticut -- in Wallingford, Torrington, Waterbury and Bristol. Aldi's competitors include Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Warehouse Corp.

In their race to woo thrifty consumers, Aldi's strategy is more turtle than hare, although construction of the warehouse is expected to pick up the pace.

"Like Wal-Mart, they build their warehouse first, and then the stores," Stern said.