A grocery chain you’ve never heard of is about to be one of the biggest in America

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Aldi is taking aim at Whole Foods.
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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Aldi says it has a plan to become the third largest grocery chain by in the US by store count within the next four years.

The discount chain is investing $3.4 billion to expand to 2,500 stores – up from 1,600 stores today – by 2022, the company said Monday.

The aggressive expansion plan would make Aldi the third largest supermarket chain behind Walmart and Kroger.

“We pioneered a grocery model built around value, convenience, quality and selection and now Aldi is one of America’s favorite and fastest growing retailers,” Aldi US CEO Jason Hart said in a statement. “We’re growing at a time when other retailers are struggling. We are giving our customers what they want, which is more organic produce, antibiotic-free meats and fresh healthier options across the store, all at unmatched prices up to 50 percent lower than traditional grocery stores.”

Aldi also said Monday that it’s continuing to invest $1.6 billion to remodel 1,300 existing stores with a new design that features softer lighting than its older stores, as well as a larger fresh produce section, wider aisles, and electronic displays on the walls.

The German-owned grocery chain debuted the new design in October at a store in Richmond, Virginia, and it looks almost identical to Whole Foods’ new cheaper chain of stores called 365 by Whole Foods.

Here’s what it looks like:


The new Aldi store looks similar to its older stores on the outside.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

But stepping inside, it feels much different. The lighting is softer and more natural, and the aisles are wider.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Permanent eye-level shelving fixtures are everywhere in the new store. In the older stores, shown below, many items are stacked on top of each other in cardboard boxes instead of placed on shelves.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Spotlights in the new store help make the fresh produce section a central focus.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

The produce area is much larger than in Aldi’s other stores.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Like in other stores, most of the produce is sold in bulk packaging.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

It looks similar to this 365 by Whole Foods store in Los Angeles, which is about the same size as Aldi and also features metal, eye-level shelving fixtures and a centrally located produce section.

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Reuters

At the new Aldi, there’s a large refrigerated section devoted to produce.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Fruit, salad greens, and vegetables are available, as well as premade dips and soups.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Like at 365 by Whole Foods, there’s no deli at the Aldi store, but there are tons of packaged cheeses and meats to choose from.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Digital displays and lit signs everywhere promise quality and freshness.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Refrigerators line the store.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

365 by Whole Foods, shown here, has the same setup with the produce section in the middle of the store and frozen and refrigerated items on the perimeter of the store. Both stores also have very limited signage.

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Reuters

Unlike 365, however, Aldi sells home goods like pillows and holiday decorations.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Aldi, which is about 30% cheaper than Walmart, is growing rapidly. The chain has about 1,500 stores in the US with plans to add another 500 in the next couple of years. 365 by Whole Foods has three stores with plans to add 16 more in the next year.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Source: Business Insider