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Could a massive German grocery store chain open in the Fresno area?

In this June 5, 2017 photo, a woman and child walk from ALDI food market, in Salem, N.H. Low-cost grocery chain ALDI says it plans to add more stores in the U.S. over the next five years, meaning more competition for traditional grocers, Walmart and organics-focused chains like Whole Foods.
In this June 5, 2017 photo, a woman and child walk from ALDI food market, in Salem, N.H. Low-cost grocery chain ALDI says it plans to add more stores in the U.S. over the next five years, meaning more competition for traditional grocers, Walmart and organics-focused chains like Whole Foods. AP

ALDI, a low-cost German grocery store chain on a massive expansion kick, might be looking to open stores in our area.

The Hanford Sentinel newspaper is reporting that ALDI’s Central Valley director of real estate says “the company is in final negotiations for sites in Hanford and Porterville and is scouting locations in Visalia.”

ALDI could not immediately be reached for confirmation or comment about its plans in the Valley. And the City of Hanford said no plans or permit applications have been filed.

ALDI has more than 7,600 stores worldwide and already has a strong presence in the United States, with 1,600 stores in 35 states. It plans to open 900 more by the end of 2020.

A Bakersfield store opened in May and Southern California has dozens of stores.

The stores average about 15,000 square feet – bigger than a Trader Joe’s but smaller than a traditional grocery store.

ALDI carries only the “weekly must-haves,” according to the company. That means its stores are smaller with lower rent and electrical costs, savings that are passed on to shoppers. The company says shoppers can save up to 50 percent on brands carried only at ALDI.

Grocery carts are stored in one place in the store. Shoppers pay a quarter to use a cart, and get it back when the cart is returned.

In June, The Fresno Bee reached out to ALDI inquiring about potential plans for the Fresno area. The company responded with an emailed statement from ALDI’s Moreno Valley group director of operations saying “we don’t have details to share at this time about ALDI expansion in California.”

But the statement pointed to ALDI’s expansion plans. If the plans come to fruition, ALDI would be the third-largest grocery chain in the country by number of stores.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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