Brothers Keith and Eric Ezersky of Bellmore bag groceries on opening day...

Brothers Keith and Eric Ezersky of Bellmore bag groceries on opening day of a Long Island Lidl that opened in West Babylon in December.  Credit: Heather Walsh

Discount grocer Lidl is unwrapping its latest takeovers of Best Market stores.

Lidl, which last year bought all but one of the supermarkets owned by Bethpage-based Best Market, is in the process of closing groups of stores and remodeling them to reopen under their new name.

“All stores will be fully remodeled into bright new spaces with a clean and simple shopping experience that saves shoppers significant time and money,” Lidl spokesman Will Harwood said.

Two former Best Market supermarkets — at 1980 Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow and 655 Montauk Hwy. in Patchogue — will reopen with new layouts and under the Lidl name July 29 and Aug. 5, respectively, Lidl said. 

Also, three former Best Markets — at 560 Larkfield Road in East Northport, 2900 Middle Country Road in Lake Grove and 4560 Sunrise Hwy. in Oakdale — will reopen as Lidl this summer.

The five stores were closed early this year for remodeling.

Lidl US, the Arlington, Virginia-headquartered division of Germany-based Lidl, bought 27 Best Market stores in New York and New Jersey, including all 24 on Long Island, from Bethpage-based Best Market in January 2019 for an undisclosed price. 

Lidl permanently closed the Best Market in Hicksville in September. 

All Best Market employees have been offered employment with Lidl, the discounter said.

So far, four stores on Long Island bear the Lidl name.  Two of those opened in December in converted Best Market stores in West Babylon and Huntington Station.  The other two, also opened in December, are in spaces that had been vacant – in a former Waldbaum’s supermarket in Center Moriches and a former ShopRite in Plainview.

The process of converting the remaining Best Market stores will take about two years, Harwood said.

Over the next four weeks, three Best Market stores — at 19-30 37th St. in Astoria, Queens; 696 Dogwood Ave. in Franklin Square; and 5601 Merrick Road in Massapequa — will close for remodeling, and they are expected to open early next year, he said.

Lidl is a discount grocer that operates limited-assortment stores.  Other stores in this category include Aldi and Trader Joe's.  The stores are smaller and carry fewer products than traditional supermarkets. Limited-assortment stores also carry a high percentage of their own private-label brands.

About 80% of Lidl’s products are private label, Harwood said.

While Best Market supermarkets have full-service meat and seafood departments and delis, Lidl stores do not. 

Among grocers, limited-assortment stores typically offer the best value to consumers, said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"An interesting thing about limited-assortment stores is that they've been expanding their product lines beyond just everyday categories to include natural and organic items, healthy options, specialty food choices, and even beer and wine," he said.

Lidl operates more than 11,000 stores in 32 countries, including more than 100 stores across nine East Coast states.

Nationally, the chain and almost all food retailers have fared well in sales over the last few months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Lidl was aided by its focus on offering low prices, and it improved its game over the past 18 months with a crisper merchandising plan and more focused item selection, said Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food Trade News in Columbia, Maryland, and a Wantagh native.  

“Prior to COVID-19, Lidl has just done OK on Long Island (when compared to the average annual volume at a Best Market). We’ll get a better comparison now that Lidl will be opening more stores that formerly traded as Best Markets,” he said in an email.

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