After several years of speculation, Battavia, Ill.-based Aldi announced it plans to open more than two dozen stores in California next spring.

The company said in a news release the first stores are expected to open in March, with 25 open before July. Entering California is a key part of the company"s five-year plan to open 650 new stores across the country. Aldi said in a news release it expects to have nearly 2,000 stores by the end of 2018.

"At Aldi, we firmly believe that amazing quality can be affordable, and we are excited to bring our small-format, convenient grocery shopping experience to Southern California," said Jason Hart, Aldi CEO, in a news release.

The announcement comes on the heels of another German discount retailer"s plans to enter the U.S. market. Lidl, a head-to-head competitor for Aldi in other global markets, confirmed rumors of a U.S. expansion this spring.

Lidle has selected Arlington, Va., for its headquarters and a distribution center is planned for Spotsylvania County, Va.

"We plan to build on the foundation that has made Lidl so successful in Europe, while creating a unique experience for American consumers that will be unlike anything else in the market," Lidl U.S. CEO Brendan Proctor said in a news release.