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BERLIN, Feb 15 (Reuters) - German discount supermarket group Lidl will open its first stores in the United States ahead of schedule this summer, it said on Wednesday, with plans for up to 100 stores within a year.
The group plans to open its first 20 stores in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, it said in a statement.
Lidl, which runs more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries in Europe, is in the midst of a recruitment drive in the United States and had not been expected to launch there until late 2017 or 2018.
Rival German discount supermarket group Aldi, which opened its first U.S. store in 1976 and now runs 1,600, is also growing fast there, under both the Aldi banner and Trader Joe's.
Lidl and Aldi have already shaken up the British supermarket sector, in recent years winning share from Britain's traditional "big four" grocers, putting increased pressure on them to lower prices and raise their game.
Based in Neckarsulm in southern Germany, Lidl had sales of 64.6 billion euros ($68 billion) in the year to end February 2016. The group is owned by Dieter Schwarz, who is Germany's richest man according to several international rich lists, and is the son of Lidl's founder Josef Schwarz.
$1 = 0.9449 euros Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Susan Fenton