BETHPAGE, NY - In a move that surprised many in the grocery market, Lidl U.S. the discount grocer said it has agreed to acquire all 24 Best Market supermarkets on Long Island and convert them to the Lidl format beginning next year.

The deal will give Lidl an extremely large footprint on Long Island. It also represents Lidl’s first acquisition. Until now the high-profile discounter, which entered the U.S. in 2017, had focused on building its own sites.

The total price paid by Lidl U.S. wasn't disclosed. The overall deal will include all but one of Best Markets' 28 stores, with one store in Newington, Connecticut not being part of the deal. The Bethpage based company has been owned by the Raitses family since 2004. Rebecca Philbert, a former Safeway and A&P executive, has served as its CEO since 2011. She has overseen multiple store renovations plus a change from its previous identity as Best Yet Market. Best Market stores have been known for their neighborhood closeness, and emphasis on fresh foods.

“Today is a great day for Long Island, our Best Market team, and our valued customers in New Jersey and New York,” said Aviv Raitses, co-owner of Best Market. “Partnering with Lidl on this deal offers our employees a secure future with a growing grocer and continues the great tradition we started more than 20 years ago. We are delighted to be part of such a win-win, and Best Market customers have something great to look forward to with Lidl.”

Lidl says it's planning a step-by-step transition process that will begin in 2019 and will involve remodeling, reinvestment and reflagging of Best Market stores to converted Lidl stores. Lidl says all Best Market employees in New Jersey and New York would have the opportunity to join Lidl, where the company said it would offer “wages and benefits that are equal to or better than what they earn with Best Market.”