Aldi renovating, enlarging OKC-area stores

Published Thursday, July 20, 2017
by Molly Fleming

The Aldi store at 13301 N. Pennsylvania Ave. has been a part of the neighborhood since 2004.

Nearby residents showed how much they missed the grocer when it closed for five weeks during construction, said Jennifer Jenkins, operations director for Oklahoma and some Texas areas.

Aldi’s Denton division vice president, Scott Huska, said the company told people the dates when the store would be closed. But Jenkins said they’d still come by and peek in the windows to see if was open.

When the renovated store opened July 15, people were excited to see the updates, Jenkins said. The company announced on Friday that the doors would be open, and a large crowd was there Saturday. The official grand opening is Thursday.

The 13301 N. Penn store is the first to be updated to the company’s new style. An additional 4,500 square feet was added, bringing the sales floor to about 11,000 square feet; the building now measures nearly 20,000 square feet. The extra space allows for another aisle.

The renovation cost an estimated $1.2 million, according to the city’s building permits. The company plans to spend $1.6 billion by 2020 on updating and expanding 1,300 U.S. stores. It will spend another $1.4 billion opening 900 new stores in that same time period. Mayfair Village shopping center is getting a new store.

The larger store footprint will help the company expand its product line.

“Our focus is to bring in more fresh items,” Huska said. “We’re adding to our meat, deli, produce, and bakery selection.”

Jenkins said the company will increase its product selection by about 20 percent. The produce selection in an updated store is about 40 percent larger, with more organic choices.

Focusing on those four sections could help the company grow sales. The five departments generating the most sales are meat, deli, produce, beer/wine, and private label, according to a 2017 study by Progressive Grocer. Private label accounts for about 90 percent of Aldi’s product line.

Huska said the company has already started the process to sell wine and beer in its Oklahoma stores when the state laws change in 2018.

Produce, bakery, meat, and deli are also the top categories that drive traffic, with organic in there as well, according to Progressive Grocer.

Progressive Grocer’s editor-in-chief, Jim Dudlicek, said in an email that Aldi’s investment is to keep its customers from straying to Lidl, the company’s German rival. Lidl plans to build 100 stores in the U.S.

The renovated Aldi stores have different wayfinding signs. The drop-down ceiling was removed, which helps create a more open look. The lights have been replaced with energy-efficient bulbs. Huska said that even though there’s new refrigeration in the store, building operation costs are still lower because of the lighting change.

Jenkins said there are 10 stores being renovated in the Oklahoma City area now that will have refreshed looks by year’s end. All Oklahoma City Aldis will be updated by mid-2019.

In the Tulsa market, the Broken Arrow store was renovated and opened in May. The market’s six stores will be done by 2019 as well. The Tulsa stores get their products from Olathe, Kansas, while stores in Ponca City and south are served by the Denton, Texas distributor. Aldi stores get deliveries daily.

While the updates have been welcomed by regular customers, Huska said the company is hoping word-of-mouth will help recruit new shoppers. The company also has radio and television advertisements, and a newspaper flyer. It uses social media frequently as well.

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