Boss of German supermarket Lidl plans to crack the US market with American staples like doughnuts and bagels

Lidl’s new US boss hopes to turn the struggling supermarket around by better catering to American appetites, starting with staples like doughnuts.

The German discount retailer – with 12,200 stores worldwide, of which only 170 are in the US – is known for its fresh fruit and vegetables, but also for its European pastries.

But CEO of Lidl US, Joel Rampoldt, says he wants the supermarket to stock products that appeal more to American customers.

In comments sure to please police officers across America and Homer Simpson, the supermarket boss said he planned to sell “great American donuts, decadent American donuts, bigger, richer donuts.”

Lidl opened its first store in the US in 2017, but is much smaller than rival German discount retailer Aldi, which has about 2,400 stores and said last month it would open another 800 over the next five years.

In 2021, Lidl US launched an ad campaign to promote its ‘crazy cost-effective croissants’, but the new CEO also wants to offer ‘great American pastries’

American Joel Rampoldt (photo) was appointed as the fifth CEO of Lidl US six months ago

American Joel Rampoldt (photo) was appointed as the fifth CEO of Lidl US six months ago

The appointment of Rampoldt as the fifth CEO of Lidl US six months ago marks a departure from the existing strategy. He is the first American CEO and, unlike previous appointees, had not previously worked for Lidl.

“When I look at it, I think we’re missing some of the things that the American consumer expects to find,” he says told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview.

Rampoldt indicated that he would do things differently, noting that his predecessors had advertised the famous $0.69 croissants.

In 2021, Lidl US launched an advertising campaign to promote its ‘crazy cost-effective croissants’.

“They are the best croissants you can buy in the US,” he said. “But we can also have great American donuts, decadent American donuts, bigger, richer donuts.”

“And we have to have great bagels,” he added. “You’ll see us rolling those things out soon.”

Since taking the job, Rampoldt said he has worked shifts at several stores across the country — from Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — to better understand the business.

He noted that the “commercial transformation” will be driven by new leadership. U.S. supermarket veteran Tod Seiling was recently named vice president of fresh food and will oversee purchasing of meat, fish, poultry and other products.

Meanwhile, new customer service executive Frank Kerr will bring “an American perspective to some key areas.”

Lidl US's new CEO wants to meet customer expectations and the grocer will soon roll out 'decadent American donuts'

Lidl US’s new CEO wants to meet customer expectations and the grocer will soon roll out ‘decadent American donuts’

Lidl is known for its range of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also for European pastries

Lidl is known for its range of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also for European pastries

And in the coming months, before July 4, Lidl will also renew its meat department.

“You’re going to see big changes in the product that’s on the shelves, what the product is, how it’s packaged, how we brand it, how we present it,” he said.

Adjusting the offer depending on the time of year is another pillar of Rampoldt’s strategy.

“One of the things that I think is really important in that area is that we are seasonally relevant and that we have the right products for the right holidays,” he said. ‘The calendar really moves a lot more in the US than in some other countries.’

But while Lidl US will shift its stock, it will stay true to its roots by maintaining the compact size of its stores and prioritizing value for money.

“It’s easier to come in, grab what you need and leave,” Rampoldt said. ‘You can get what you need at great quality and at a great price. We want to be our customer’s first choice.’

Last week, Lidl confirmed a new round of layoffs involving employees at its U.S. headquarters in Virginia.