German discounter Lidl slows U.S. expansion: paper

A company logo is pictured outside a Lidl supermarket in Vienna, Austria, May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German discount food retailer Lidl is slowing its U.S. expansion and switching focus from big-box stores to smaller formats, the Handelsblatt business daily reported, citing local real estate and political sources.

Privately-held Lidl, known in Europe for its focus on competitive prices, opened its first stores in the United States last summer and was planning to expand to 100 outlets within a year.

Projects in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia into which Lidl has sunk money have been halted or abandoned, Handelsblatt said in a story released ahead of publication in its Thursday edition.

Lidl, in a response to the newspaper, declined to confirm or deny the report, saying only that it was “constantly examining and working on our property portfolio”.

Since launching in June 2017, Lidl has opened 49 U.S. stores but it remains unclear whether the number targeted will now be built, Handelsblatt said.

Lidl runs more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe and is owned by Dieter Schwarz, who is Germany’s richest man according to several international rich lists and is the son of Lidl’s founder Josef Schwarz.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter