New leadership is coming to fast-growing discount grocery chain Lidl, with the firm officially announcing Johannes Fieber as the president and CEO of its American arm, according to Supermarket News reports. Fieber is replacing outgoing Brendan Proctor, who has led the firm’s aggressive stateside expansion ambitions since 2015.
“I am honored to be able to lead our expansion in the U.S., and look forward to building on the progress that is underway,” said Fieber. “I look forward to continuing our expansion into additional markets this year, and [to] introducing more customers to Lidl’s high-quality products and low prices.”
Fieber has been with the Lidl family for 10 years, serving as CEO of Lidl Sweden before accepting his latest promotion. He held senior positions with the company in both Italy and Germany prior to his time in Sweden.
Lidl made its first entry into the U.S. market during Proctors’ tenure at the top. His reign as CEO began two years before Lidl began opening its first stores stateside, and the company has not been an easy transition into the space. Growth plans that were initially slated to be highly aggressive have since pulled back, as conditions on the ground in the U.S. grocery market have changed.
Lidl’s original plans would have seen it open 100 stores within its first year in the States, but were pulled back after opening 50 at the outset of its entrance into the new market.
American consumers have turned out to be less impressed with the brand’s mix of inexpensive private-label products, smaller format and sizing model. Lidl’s entrance coincided with the early days of the grocery war raging in the U.S., too, which has seen large and very established competitors like Walmart and Kroger aggressively slashing prices, Amazon formally entering with a Whole Foods purchase and a host of small and medium-sized players hoping to snap up marginal grocery spend on things like meal kits.
Lidl’s Neckarsulm, Germany-based parent company operates more than 10,000 stores across Europe.