Aldi plans new Hazlet supermarket; battle with Lidl is coming

January 24, 2018

By David P. Willis | Asbury Park Press

With a supermarket battle on the horizon, discount grocer Aldi has plans to build a new store on Route 35 in Hazlet, just across the street from its existing store in Hazlet Plaza.

Aldi, which has had a store at Hazlet Plaza for 10 years, has filed construction plans for a new 19,500-square-foot store in the old Kmart Plaza. The target of a redevelopment effort approved in 2017 by Hazlet’s leaders, the center is now called Hazlet Town Center.

Aldi’s store will fit into the large 150,000-square-foot vacancy at the plaza, which was formerly Kmart and Pathmark. Details on how the developer plans to subdivide the vacant stores were not available. Onyx Equities purchased Kmart Plaza in 2016 for $26 million.

The move comes as Lidl, a discount grocer and powerful Aldi competitor in Europe, builds a store on Route 35 near the intersection of Poole Avenue. In 2013, ShopRite opened an 85,000-square-foot supermarket nearby too.

“It’s a great thing,” township Administrator Dennis Pino said. “In the end, I think the consumers will win, they’ll have options.”

Aldi did not say when it will open the new location. What will happen to the existing Aldi store at Hazlet Plaza is not known either, but it’s possible its lease is expiring. It signed a 10-year lease in 2007.

“Our plans for our Hazlet location haven’t been solidified yet,” said Bob Grammer, vice president of Aldi’s Center Valley division, in a statement.

Aldi, based in Essen, Germany, is growing fast in the U.S. It is spending upward of $5 billion to open 900 new stores and remodel more than 1,300 existing stores nationwide by 2020. It owns 42 stores in New Jersey, including seven in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The company is “gearing up” for its battle with Lidl, said supermarket analyst Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group. “This is going to be the war in the stores like no one has seen” since Walmart began to sell groceries.

Aldi and Lidl will bring the fight to ShopRite, Foodtown, Stop & Shop, dollar stores and other discounters.” A lot of stores will go from profitable to unprofitable to being in business to being out of business,” Flickinger said.

Aldi’s Grammer said the grocer has been operating in the United States for decades. He called the company the “original low-price leader.”

“Rather than concerning ourselves with what our competitors do, we stay focused on what people want – value, quality and selection,” he said.