New grocery store seen winning zoning approval

A proposal before the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday, seeking approval to put a Lidl’s grocery in the 2600 block of North Salisbury Boulevard “should be a rubber stamp situation,” Mayor Jake Day said this week

“It looks good,” he said about plans for the German-based company to build where American Best Value Inn is now. Day said the owner of the property wants to sell it. Last summer, a teen was shot to death there after a party.

The new grocery store could open in 2018.

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG has more 10,000 stores across Europe.

A Lidl spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment, but the grocery store has been featured in consumer publications including Business Insider, which described it as a cross between Trader Joe’s and Wal-Mart, with considerable discounts not only on groceries, but also on appliances, clothing and furniture.

Day likes the North Salisbury Boulevard location because now the only grocery store on the north side of town is Wal-Mart, with no more markets until shoppers cross the Delaware border. “It’s one of the multiple locations Lidl was pursuing in Salisbury,” the mayor said.

He described Lidl as comparable to Trader Joe’s, with reasonable prices “but focused on the basics — ready prep, frozen, organic.”

“Today’s consumer is looking for that. Today’s consumer is also looking for Harris Teeter. They could come to Salisbury in time,” the mayor said.

Lidl has no stores in the United States yet, but is aggressively pursuing the market, Day said, adding it’s known for low cost and high quality. The company plans to build 100 new stores in the United States by 2018. There are now 10,000 in France, 3,300 in Germany and hundreds in other European countries.

If Lidl opens here, it will add an option to the existing three grocery chains. There are three Food Lions, a Wal-Mart in Fruitland and Salisbury and Giant on South Salisbury Boulevard.

“I think competition is good in the market place,” Day said.

Although some remain concerned Giant will close, the mayor is confident it won’t, and reiterated that the spokesmen from Ahold USA, Inc. the parent company of Giant of Maryland, said it will stay open.

Chris Brand, external communications and public affairs lead for Ahold USA, based in Carlisle, Pa., said this week that nothing has changed since he first made that comment several weeks ago.

Ahold is continuing to work toward the “successful completion of the proposed merger between Ahold and the Delhaize Group. The merger is currently under review by the Federal Trade Commission and remains on track for completion in mid-2016. We do not anticipate any store closures as part of the FTC review process,” he said.

“As part of any merger approval process where there may be store divestitures, store visits may be conducted by potential buyers but it’s too early to speculate on the outcome of the FTC review process,” Brand said.

Apparently Giant employees aren’t so sure.

During the weekend they handed out fliers to customers, asking them to sign an online petition to keep the store open. Collected signatures will be sent to the Federal Trade Commission, said a Local 27 union representative at the Selbyville office. She asked not to be identified.

The petition, at www.saveourgiant.com, states Ahold “intends to close the only Giant Food grocery store in Salisbury … to accommodate Ahold’s purchase of Food Lion stores.”

Above signatures are the words, “I ask Royal Ahold to keep the store open and bannered as a Giant Food store. I am signing to show that I support this store, asking Ahold to keep our Giant open.”

A union rally could be planned, the union representative said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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