By Scott Buttram, publisher
TRUSSVILLE –Aldi has a new design that Business Insider called “identical” to Whole Foods’ new concept, 365 by Whole Foods. While it is not yet a done deal, there are indications that the new Aldi design concept may end up in Trussville.
Business publications having been buzzing about a head-to-head competition in the grocery industry between Aldi and Whole Foods. According to the Bloomberg Business article, Whole Foods Is Getting Killed By Aldi, Whole Foods launched a new concept in order to win over millennials. Aldi’s new design concept matches the Whole Food plan step for step, but still wins the price war with pricing as much as 30 percent below Walmart, according to Business Insider.
Trussville could become the next salvo in the battle.
Representatives from Aldi appeared before the Trussville Design Review Committee seeking approval for signage for the building in Homestead Village formerly planned for Fresh Market. The approval was granted.
John Abernathy of Blackwater Resources, developer of Homestead Village, could not confirm that Aldi is interested in the space. Citing a confidentiality agreement, Abernathy would only say that Blackwater is in negotiations with potential tenants for the two remaining spaces in the shopping center.
Aldi representatives had not responded to emails at the time of publication.
But there are indicators that the new design could be headed for Trussville, including a local employee that said she was told the store was moving and that the new store would be totally different than the current store on Chalkville Mountain Road. The employee, who declined to speak on the record, said no date was given for the move.
In 2015, Whole Foods, once the darling of the upper end organic grocery store world, was facing three straight quarters of declining sales in existing stores. In 2016, Fresh Market, another organic grocer, began backing out of leases and closing some stores in an effort to contain costs.
In an effort to win over the young professional millennial crowd who loved the products, but not the price, the Whole Foods chain rolled out the new 365 by Whole Foods concept. The 365 by Whole Foods is a scaled down version of the original store with a lower price point, but without the deli, restaurants, and prepared food counters.
Meanwhile, Aldi was creating a new design, too. The new look includes traditional store shelving as opposed to stacked boxes, wider aisles, improved lighting, and expanded selection for organic and gluten free products.
In a February 2017 press release, Aldi said that the new ALDI store look delivers on its customers’ desire for a modern and convenient shopping experience with a focus on fresh items, including more robust produce, dairy and bakery sections.
In the last few years, the release stated, ALDI has added a number of new product lines that have quickly become customer favorites, including the liveGfree brand of gluten-free foods, SimplyNature products featuring many organic items and a full line of premium baby items under the Little Journey brand.
Remodeled stores will also feature a modern design, open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials – such as recycled materials, energy-saving refrigeration and LED lighting, the release stated.
Another significant difference between the two grocers is convenience. While Whole Foods relies on a large footprint requiring customers to travel long distances, Aldi is more inclined to open multiple stores closer to consumers.
Aldi is investing $1.6 billion in its stores, with an extensive plan to remodel and expand more than 1,300 U.S. stores by 2020.
“With this significant investment in our stores, what we’re really doing is continuing to invest in ALDI customers,” said Jason Hart, CEO, ALDI. “We’re continuing to expand our fresh offerings, which means we need to provide more space for produce, meat, and bakery items. We’ve also made a number of improvements to our products – such as removing added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils from all of our ALDI exclusive brand foods. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that our customers still save money on the groceries they buy the most.”