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German grocer Lidl, with designs on Philly area, to open first U.S. stores this summer

German grocery giant Lidl, which has been acquiring locations for future stores in and around Philadelphia, will open its first U.S. supermarkets this year, the company said in a release Wednesday.

The plan to open 20 locations in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina in  summer 2017 will put Lidl ahead of schedule in its U.S. expansion plans, the company said.

A total of 100 East Coast stores are expected to have been established within a year of those openings, it said. Will Harwood, a spokesman for Lidl's Arlington, Va.-based U.S. unit, declined to discuss whether Philadelphia-area stores would be among the 100.