ALDI, which offers more than a 90 percent assortment of private brands, has filed a lawsuit against its competitor Lidl and two former employees who now work for Lidl, alleging that the “brazen actions” of the former employees led to the sharing of ALDI’s proprietary expansion plans with their new employer, according to a report in the Triangle Business Journal, a business newsweekly in North Carolina. Lidl, based in Arlington, Va., also offers predominantly private brands.
“Lidl has struggled in the U.S., in part because of its ill-conceived real estate strategy,” ALDI’s lawsuit reads. German retailer Lidl revealed that it was expanding to the United States in 2015, establishing its U.S. headquarters, and opening its first stores in the country two year later. While the discount retailer originally planned for an initial expansive push of stores, it hit several roadblocks that derailed its original plans. At the time of Lidl’s announcement to enter the U.S. market, ALDI detailed its own plans to grow the number of its locations.
It's these expansion plans that are at the heart of Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI’s lawsuit. “The locations of ALDI’s planned stores are not publicly known, and ALDI does not disclose that information outside of those employees within ALDI who have a specific business need to know that information,” ALDI noted in its lawsuit.
The complaint is concerned with the alleged actions of Bruna Maraccini, who is currently Lidl’s director of real estate for the North Carolina region, but previously held a similar role in the same region for ALDI.
The lawsuit alleges that Maraccini, aided by her former assistant at ALDI, Colleen Savory, violated her severance packages that included a confidentiality clause as well as a noncompeting pledge. According to the suit, the two supplied Lidl with “ALDI’s growth and business development strategies, including… the location of its future stores, the format and layout of those stores, construction plans, cost-reduction strategies, and remodeling strategies.”
Additionally, earlier this year, Lidl hired Roman Heini as its U.S. chairman. Heini worked at ALDI for 18 years, and was instrumental in its growth and modernization in the United Kingdom.
In addition to opening new stores, Lidl also recently acquired the regional chain Best Market, which added 27 stores in New York and New Jersey.
ALDI is Store Brands 2019 Retailer of the Year.