The abrupt changing of the guard at German discounter Lidl does not appear to be related to its planned expansion in the U.S., although the instability could affect the timing of the company's entry to the market, sources told SN Friday.
Earlier this week, Lidl said it parted ways with its chairman, Karl-Heinz Holland, along with its head of buying and, Dawid Jaschok. On Friday, Lidl said it appointed Sven Seidel to succeed Holland and Robin Goudsblom to replace Jaschok. The company cited disagreements “concerning the future strategic operation of the business” for the departures, but did not elaborate further.
Unconfirmed reports out of Germany suggested that Holland resigned after Jaschok was fired. Newspapers further speculated that Jaschok was considered an “old school” executive not in line with the softer and more modern image the company’s board now prefers, Matthias Queck, a Frankfurt-based research director for consulting firm Planet Retail, told SN Friday. Queck stressed he could not confirm that speculation.
Despite the executive turnover, Queck said he believed Lidl would follow through on plans to expand in the U.S., but noted that its goal of 100 stores in 2015 — already quite ambitious — could be delayed as a result.
“It’s clearly a setback for the company,” Queck said. “because you can only do such a big venture like entering the U.S. market if you have a strong executive board that agrees with what the company does and has stability and continuity.” Lidl, which operates small discount stores in 26 countries, has acknowledged that it is exploring a U.S. entry.
As reported previously in SN, the group has established offices in Arlington, Va. headed by members of its division in Ireland. Lidl stores are considered to be similar to those of its German rival Aldi, although sources believe its U.S. stores may target a lower-income demographic. Sources said it was likely that Lidl would concentrate expansion efforts in East Coast markets where Aldi has proven such discount models can work.
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