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Lidl, the German discount grocer expanding in Maryland, plans to extend medical benefits to part-time workers, covering an additional 100 employees in the state.

The grocer’s Arlington, Va.-based U.S. division, which is opening a $100 million distribution center in Cecil County’s Perryville early next year, will offer health coverage to all 1,200 part-time employees in its 70 U.S. stores starting Jan. 1, the company said Tuesday. Lidl has Maryland stores in Aberdeen, Bowie, College Park and Hagerstown with more in the works.

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We want our team to have the peace of mind knowing they have healthcare coverage,” said Roman Heini, chairman of Lidl US, in an announcement. "As we continue to expand, we are committed to supporting all our employees so they can be their best.”

LIdl said it is one of a few retailers to offer health coverage to part-time employees. Others that offer such benefits in some form to part-timers include Costco, Lowe’s and Starbucks. But Lidl’s announcement comes at a time when Amazon-owned Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for its part-time employees who work at least 20 hours but less than 30 per week.

Lidl said it will invest up to $9 million in the first year of the initiative, an amount that will grow as the retailer expands in the United States.

In Maryland, Lidl soon will open its first two Baltimore County supermarkets, in Catonsville and Nottingham, and six others in the state by next spring, part of a 25-store East Coast expansion. The Baltimore County stores will be located at 6026 Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville and 8667 Belair Road in the Nottingham area, a former Mars Super Markets space.

The grocer said last month it also plans a store at the Mall in Columbia, which will open in the spring in a former Sears space. Other stores will open in District Heights, Lanham and Waldorf.

A spokesman said Tuesday the chain is pursuing additional store sites across the state, including in Baltimore city.

The grocer markets itself with low prices, easy-to-shop stores with just six aisles, and a curated selection of mostly private label products. It began opening U.S. stores in summer of 2017. The company runs 10,800 stores in 32 countries.

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