Lidl US chief to leave, reports say
Grocery chain taps American retail consultant as U.S. CEO
Updated Aug. 7, 2023
The president and CEO of Lidl US, the Arlington-based United States branch of the German grocery chain, is set to leave the post at the end of August, according to reports in German and U.S. trade publications citing an internal memo.
Michal Lagunionek, Lidl’s U.S. president and CEO since 2021, will be replaced by Joel Rampoldt, a Miami-based retail and wholesaler consultant who is new to the company, reported Grocery Dive and Lebensmittel Zeitung on July 24.
On Monday, Lidl confirmed Rampoldt’s hiring in a statement. “As of September, Joel Rampoldt will be responsible for Lidl’s U.S. market as chief executive officer. Joel has many years of extensive retail expertise and has worked at AlixPartners, a global consulting company, as a partner and managing director, and at KPMG.” He will be based in Arlington.
Lagunionek was the fourth U.S. chief executive since the German discount grocery chain established its headquarters in Arlington in 2017. He succeeded Johannes Fieber in June 2021, and like the other Lidl US CEOs, Lagunionek was an internal hire, previously serving as CEO of Lidl’s Poland division and a member of the board of Lidl International. A native of Poland, Lagunionek will leave in late August and take a sabbatical, with plans to return to Europe, according to the publications.
The hiring of Rampoldt, however, implies that the retailer is taking a different tack in U.S. leadership.
The shift in leadership comes during a reorganization of Lidl’s headquarters and the closing of some stores and openings of others. In February, Lidl laid off about 200 workers at its headquarters and in July closed 11 stores in the U.S., including two in Charlottesville and Henrico County. A spokesperson said the closed stores were underperforming. Lidl has about 170 stores in the United States, and more than 12,000 worldwide. However, the chain is opening stores in other locations, including one in Lorton late last month, and a Leesburg store was just approved by the Leesburg Planning Commission.
Lidl is owned by German retail company Schwarz Group, which recorded a 13.8% increase in sales last year to about $126.3 million, but outside Germany, the chain had mixed results, with sales increasing by 7.1%, well below the European food inflation rate of 15%. The parent company did not disclose its profit figures or sales for its U.S. stores, but the quickly changing leadership and store closures indicate challenges.
The first American to lead the division, Rampoldt comes from consulting firm AlixPartners, where he is partner and managing director. Rampoldt was previously a principal at KPMG; a partner and co-head of North American retail and consumer practice at consulting firm Oliver Wyman; a manager at Digitas; and a manager at AT&T, according to his LinkedIn page. Rampoldt is a graduate of Georgia State University and the Yale School of Management.