Aldis is owned by Trader Joes
The brothers Karl Hans Albrecht (1920 - 2014) and Theodor Paul Albrecht (1922 - 2010) began their careers after the end of World War II in a small grocer that their mother Anna opened in 1913 in the Essen miners' suburb of Schonnebeck. In the long run, however, they couldn't make a living from it and so they gradually opened more grocery stores in the Ruhr area. In 1950 they owned 13 shops, in 1960 there were already around 300. Low prices thanks to a small range (around 400 items, no expensive fresh goods), simple equipment, few staff, small sales areas (= lower rent) and minimal advertising (bags, flyers; meanwhile also newspaper advertisements) brought the company a rapid growth. In order to circumvent the legal limits for the disclosure of business results, the brothers separated Albrecht KG in 1961 into a north group (Theo Albrecht) and a south group (Karl Albrecht). According to a rumor, a dispute between the brothers over the inclusion of tobacco products and frozen food in the range is said to have led to the separation of the company.
In 1962 Theo Albrecht used the name Aldi (ALbrecht + DIscount) for the first time in a newly opened branch in Dortmund, which was soon also used by the Süd-Gruppe. In Austria, Slovenia and Greece, Aldi Süd operates under the name of the Hofer retail chain, which was taken over in 1968. The border between the two groups runs from Bocholt on the Dutch border through the Ruhr area to Fulda in Hesse (Aldi equator). This separation also exists abroad: Belgium (since 1973), Denmark (since 1977), France (since 1988), Luxembourg (since 1990), the Netherlands (since 1975), Poland (since 2008), Portugal (since 2006) and Spain (since 2002) controls Aldi Nord. The stores in Australia (since 2001), China (since 2019), Greece (2007 - 2010; Hofer), Great Britain (since 1989), Ireland (since 1998), Austria (since 1968; Hofer), Switzerland (since 2005) , Slovenia (since 2005; Hofer), Hungary (since 2006) and the USA (since 1976) belong to Aldi Süd. When Theo Albrecht took over the US grocery chain Trader Joe's (1979) (via the Markus Foundation), Aldi Nord also became active in the USA. At the end of 2019, both Aldi companies operated over 11,000 branches worldwide.
There are some differences between the two groups: The northern stores (Aldi-Markt) are often in narrow urban locations without parking spaces (except in eastern Germany), they carry a larger range (around 700 items) and more regional products and branded items. Aldi Süd has larger and more modern branches, some on the "green field", but a smaller range of goods (around 600 items).
In 1971 the company hit the headlines when Theo Albrecht was kidnapped and was only released after paying a ransom of seven million marks. The kidnapper was caught, large parts of the ransom remained missing, but the advertising effectiveness was resounding. The success of the Aldi stores soon led to the establishment of further discount chains (1972 Tengelmann / Plus, 1973 Lidl, Rewe / Penny-Markt). In 1975, Aldi opened the 1,000th branch. Until the 1990s, Aldi was considered a cheap store for the lower class. However, rising prices and the often good results of Aldi private labels in product tests (Stiftung Warentest) mean that wealthier customers are now also shopping at Aldi. Over the years the initially spartan offer has been expanded considerably (including flowers / plants, computers, branded items, fruit / vegetables, online photo service, package tours, prepaid cards for mobile phones, textiles, consumer electronics, newspapers / magazines) and the interior design is also has since been adapted to the modern markets of other chains.
The Aldi Group is still fully owned by the Albrecht family. At the end of 2020, Aldi closed the Essen store, which had been located at Huestrasse 89 in Essen since 1919 (previously at Huestrasse 87). For this purpose, a new Aldi branch was opened in the immediate vicinity.
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