This week the Family Business Office, for its twenty fourth edition of Focus On World Family Business Leaders looks at Theo Albrecht JNR second generation heir and son of the co-founder of the worldwide chain supermarket giant ALDI. Also in place to this vast chain is third generation heirs from Theo’s late brother Berthold.
Aldi is one of the fastest-growing grocery chains in the world. The German supermarket is known for its low prices, small inventory, and no-frills approach to shopping, from its vaunted quarter system to the fact that shoppers bag their own groceries. Aldi stores are a unique world, all of their own.
Albrecht was born in Bremen, Germany in 1950. In 2010, his father Theo Albrecht died, leaving the ownership of the German supermarket chain Aldi Nord and US supermarket chain Trader Joe’s to his two sons, Theo Jr. and Berthold, but Berthold died in 2012. Theo Albrecht Jr. and the heirs of his brother Berthold inherited the fortune, which originally grew from a corner grocery shop opened back in 1913.
Albrecht’s estimated net worth is US$20.6 billion, as of July 2021, according to Forbes.
The first thing you need to know about “Aldi” is that, technically speaking, it refers to two different companies, although it didn’t start that way.
In 1913, a young lady named Anna Albrecht founded a small grocery store in the suburbs of Essen, Germany. Her husband, Karl Albrecht, Sr., was a former miner afflicted with black lung disease who went to work in a bread factory. During World War II, Anna’s two sons, Theodor and Karl, were drafted into the German military: Theo fought in North Africa and was taken as an American POW, while Karl was wounded fighting against the Russians. Both brothers returned to Germany after the war. In 1946, they took over Anna’s grocery store, naming it Albrecht KG. They expanded soon after, and by 1950 they had over a dozen stores in operation.
In the early 1960s, the brothers split the company after they couldn’t come to an agreement on whether to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, the brothers also settled on an unusual arrangement: while they would operate two separate companies, they would continue to cooperate in their business ventures. For starters, they decided to create two companies with variations on the same name: Aldi, which is short for Albrecht-Diskont … or, for the English-speaking crowd, Albrecht Discount. One brother named his company Aldi Nord while the other named his Aldi Süd. In this way they reached a compromise so that they would both continue the family business they had started off in partnership.
( All factual and statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract of articles found on www.aldireviewer.com and Wikipedia.com) Follow us on our Facebook page and Family Business Office website at www.familybusiness.org.mt
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