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Aldi opening 45 California stores by 2016


Low-price grocery chain Aldi is coming to Southern California, as the retailer hastens plans to open at least 45 stores in that state by the end of 2016.

The retailer says it plans to hire more than 1,100 people to work in its Southern California stores, as well as at the company's regional headquarters and warehouse in Moreno Valley, Calif.

In Southern California, German-owned Aldi says it will offer starting wages of $13 per hour for store associates, with an opportunity for long-standing associates to earn up to $21 per hour. For Moreno Valley warehouse associates, Aldi will offer a starting wage of $19 per hour, with an opportunity for long-standing warehouse associates to earn up to $26 per hour.

The Aldi expansion to California is an integral part of a five-year strategic plan to open 650 new stores across the nation. By the end of 2018, Aldi expects to operate nearly 2,000 stores in the United States.To support its expansion plan, Aldi will invest more than $3 billion to pay for land, facilities and equipment.

"We recognize and value the excellent customer experience that our employees at every level deliver each day, and we know that we would not be growing at this accelerated pace without them," said Jason Hart, Aldi's chief executive for U.S. operations."Our approach to attracting and, equally as important, retaining the best employees is two-fold. First, we offer our associates generous compensation, including benefits, which is well above the industry standard. Second, we operate within a culture that is based on respect, honesty, responsibility and open communication. Together, this is an unbeatable combination."

The addition of Aldi will put the squeeze on California supermarkets, which have been scrambling to offer customers more options both online and at stores. Safeway and Albertsons merged earlier this year to try to gain an edge. Now, Aldi's entrance will force grocers to compete ever more aggressively.

Aldi now operates nearly 1,400 US stores in 32 states, primarily from Kansas to the East Coast.

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