011520_BNN_Lidl_Switch

Customers are shown during the January 2019 opening of European grocery chain Lidl’s southwest Marietta location on Powder Springs Road.

Officials with German grocery chain Lidl said they switched from a previously announced Bartow County site to eastern metro Atlanta for a new regional distribution center because it is more centrally located for current and future stores.

Officials with the state government and Lidl recently announced the company’s plans to build a $100-million facility about 35 miles east of Atlanta in Covington rather than in Cartersville where the center was planned in June 2017.

“After further evaluation, Lidl chose a location that is more centralized for its store network in the state and future expansion plans,” the company said in a Jan. 3 news release.

The company has opened four stores in Georgia in Augusta, Mableton, Marietta and Snellville — a much slower growth rate than the multiple stores and Bartow distribution center officials said it planned to build in 2017.

Lidl previously planned its regional distribution center on an 89-acre site in the Highland 75 industrial park off Cass-White Road in central Bartow County, the Daily Tribune News in Cartersville reported.

Then-Lidl US president and CEO Brendan Proctor in a June 2017 news release praised Cartersville for having “a vibrant workforce” and its “central location for our distribution network.”

Lidl also submitted plans in 2017 for stores in Hiram and Douglasville as part of an aggressive growth plan that included Marietta, Rome, Cumming, Decatur, Mableton, Newnan, Sandy Springs and Woodstock in metro Atlanta as well as Augusta, Pooler and Warner Robins.

However, Proctor departed the company in 2018 after the company experienced “growing pains” in the U.S., the trade publication Store Brands reported.

“While Lidl’s entry into the U.S. (in 2017) was marked by much fanfare in the trade and mainstream media, it has been criticized since for its poor selection of store locations, and stores that are too large and expensive to operate,” Store Brands reported in May 2018.

Lidl scaled back its plans and subsequently only built stores in three of the announced Georgia locations as well as in Gwinnett County near Snellville.

It now operates 85 stores in nine states rather than 100 it planned to have open by mid-2018, Store Brands reported

Its planned 925,000-square-foot distribution center and regional headquarters in Covington will create 270 new full-time jobs in the next five years, according to a news release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office.

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