Low-cost grocery chain Aldi plans to add 850 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.
The German grocery chain, which added an Ooltewah store last fall and plans to soon add another store near Signal Mountain, already operates five stores in the Chattanooga region.
On Monday, Aldi announced it plans to spend about $1.6 billion to remodel some existing stores in the United States and another $3.4 billion to add new stores over the next five years.
Aldi will grow from 1,650 stores today to about 2,500 by 2022.
That will boost the number of stores by discount grocer close to the 2,800 stores operated by Kroger and will offer a challenge to Walmart. Aldi said the expansion should make it the third biggest grocery chain in America.
The expansion should help Chattanooga-based Morgan Construction, which has already built more than 100 Aldi stores across the country.
Morgan has just been awarded it's 105th project with Aldi.
"They are a very well run company and their operating format seems to resonate well with consumers these days," Morgan said Monday. "We'll see how this round in the grocery wars goes but for us as contractor, a growing customer is a great problem to have."
Aldi focuses on private- label goods, like Trader Joe's does — so no Kraft macaroni and cheese — and has 1,650 stores in the United States. Aldi says it aims to give customers organic produce and meat raised without antibiotics.
It was already planning on expanding to 2,000 stores by the end of 2018.
In comparison, Kroger, one of the largest U.S. grocery companies, owns chains including Kroger, Fry's, Ralphs and Harris Teeter and has about 2,800 supermarkets.
Named to Forbes' list of America's Best Large Employers, Aldi will add 25,000 new jobs in stores, warehouses and offices with industry-leading compensation and generous benefits packages.
"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 CEO Jason Hart said. "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."