In a nod to a tight job market as it seeks workers to support its forthcoming Long Island launch, Lidl U.S. is raising the starting wage for employees transitioning from its acquired Best Market stores to $15 per hour—$1 per hour more than it initially forecast.
The wage increases went into effect Sept. 6 and apply to Best Market team members upon their transition to Lidl. The retailer, which has U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va., said it will directly notify current team members who are going through transitional training and who will be affected by this increase.
Spokesman Will Harwood told WGB in an email that Lidl had previously planned a starting wage of $14 per hour on Long Island, where 24 of the 27 acquired Best Market stores operate, “but after further analysis, we believe that $15 per hour is the right starting wage for this area.”
Lidl typically pays above-market rates wherever it operates, Harwood said. The current minimum wage on Long Island is $12 per hour.
Lidl acquired Bethpage, N.Y.-based Best Market late last year and has begun a phased process of transitioning the units to the Lidl banner, bringing a heavy concentration of hard discount stores to the market. The company said at the time of the deal that it would offer employment to all Best Market employees at their current or higher salaries.
Many of those workers are in training programs now as Lidl refashions the workforce from one with many specialty jobs to a flatter organization with just four titles for store-level teams: associates, supervisors, assistant store managers and store managers. Depending on their roles, some workers are training in “model stores,” including one built in Best Market’s headquarters; others are training in existing Lidl stores in the U.S.
The pay rate adjustment comes as U.S. unemployment remains low and head count demands in retail are expected to rise in the second half of the year. Stop & Shop over the summer said it was seeking nearly 400 new part-time workers on Long Island, where it has been transitioning stores under a rebranding initiative.
Although Lidl has offered jobs to all Best Market workers, not all are likely to come along. A report in Newsday indicated some workers were unhappy with the prospect that their hours could be cut under the new arrangement. Some of them reportedly rallied in June at a Best Market store in Huntington, N.Y., that was supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which had also had a long history of tangles with nonunion Best Market.
Lidl said its first four stores on Long Island would open no later than early next year. Two of the stores, in Huntington and West Babylon, are former Best Market locations that closed in July for renovation to the new banner. Planned units in Plainview and Center Moriches, N.Y., will be new builds, with the Plainview site replacing a Best Market store currently operating in Hicksville.