Aldi (stylised as ALDI) is the common brand of two German family-owned discount supermarket chains with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries, and an estimated combined turnover of more than €50 billion. Based in Germany, the chain was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother's store in Essen. The business was split into two separate groups in 1960, that later became Aldi Nord, headquartered in Essen, and Aldi Süd, headquartered in Mülheim. In 1962, they introduced the name Aldi (a syllabic abbreviation for Albrecht Diskont), which is pronounced [ˈaldiː] (
ALDI Nord (left), ALDI Süd (right)
|Founded||10 July 1946 (split in two parts in 1960, renamed to Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd in 1962)|
|Founders||Karl and Theo Albrecht|
|Headquarters||Essen, Germany (Aldi Nord)|
Mülheim, Germany (Aldi Süd)
Number of locations
|Products||Grocery; Household Essentials.|
|Subsidiaries||Trader Joe's (Aldi Nord)|
Aldi's German operations consist of Aldi Nord's 35 individual regional companies with about 2,500 stores in western, northern, and eastern Germany, and Aldi Süd's 32 regional companies with 1,600 stores in western and southern Germany. Internationally, Aldi Nord operates in Denmark, France, the Benelux countries, Portugal, Spain and Poland, while Aldi Süd operates in Ireland, Great Britain, Hungary, Switzerland, Australia, China, Italy, Austria and Slovenia. Both Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd also operate in the United States with 1,600 stores as of 2017 (and is the only country to have both of Aldi's subsidiaries operating outside of Germany).
Karl and Theo Albrecht's mother opened a small store in a suburb of Essen in 1913. Their father was employed as a miner and later as a baker's assistant. Karl Albrecht was born in 1920 and Theo Albrecht was born in 1922. Theo Albrecht completed an apprenticeship in his mother's store, while Karl Albrecht worked in a delicatessen.
Karl Albrecht took over a food shop formerly run by F. W. Judt and later served in the German Army during World War II. In 1946, the brothers took over their mother's business and soon opened another retail outlet nearby. By 1950, the Albrecht brothers owned 13 stores in the Ruhr Valley.
The brothers' idea was to subtract the legal maximum rebate of 3% before sale. The market leaders at the time, which often were co-operatives, required their customers to collect rebate stamps and to send them at regular intervals to reclaim their money. The Albrecht brothers also rigorously removed merchandise that did not sell from their shelves, cutting costs by neither advertising nor selling fresh produce and keeping the size of their retail outlets small.
The brothers split the company in 1960 over a dispute about whether they should sell cigarettes. Karl believed that they would attract shoplifters while his brother did not. At the time, they jointly owned 300 shops with a cash flow of DM90 million yearly. In 1962, they introduced the name Aldi—short for Albrecht-Diskont. Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd have been financially and legally separate since 1966.
The individual groups were originally owned and managed jointly by the brothers. After Berthold's death, Aldi Nord continues to be controlled by the Albrecht family through its Markus, Lukas and Jakobus foundations, which hold a combined 80.5 per cent of the company's issued capital.
Aldi started to expand internationally in 1967, when Aldi Süd acquired the grocery chain Hofer in Austria; Aldi Nord opened its first stores abroad in the Netherlands in 1973, and other countries followed. In 1976, Aldi opened its first store in the United States in Iowa, and, in 1979, Aldi Nord acquired Trader Joe's. After German reunification and the fall of the Iron Curtain, Aldi experienced a rapid expansion. The brothers retired as CEOs in 1993; control of the companies was placed in the hands of private family foundations, the Siepmann Foundation (Aldi Süd) and the Markus Foundation (Aldi Nord, Trader Joe's).
The Aldi Nord group currently consists of 35 independent regional branches with approximately 2,500 stores. Aldi Süd is made up of 31 companies with 1,600 stores. The border between their territories is commonly known as ″Aldi-Äquator″ (literally: Aldi equator) and runs from the Rhine via Mülheim an der Ruhr, Wermelskirchen, Marburg, Siegen, and Gießen east to just north of Fulda.
The former East Germany is served by Aldi Nord, except for one Aldi Süd in Sonneberg, Thuringia, whose regional office is in Bavaria. The regional branches are organised as limited partnerships with a regional manager for each branch who reports directly to the head office in Essen (Aldi Nord) or Mülheim an der Ruhr (Aldi Süd).
In December 2002, a survey conducted by the German market research institute Forsa found 95% of blue-collar workers, 88% of white-collar workers, 84% of public servants, and 80% of self-employed Germans shop at Aldi. One of Aldi's direct competitors internationally is Lidl.
The Aldi group operates over 10,000 stores worldwide. Aldi Nord is responsible for its stores in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Poland, Spain, Denmark, and Portugal, and also operates the Trader Joe's markets in the United States. Aldi Süd's responsibilities are in the United States (operating under the Aldi name), Austria, Slovenia and Italy (as Hofer), Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and Switzerland. Aldi Süd's first Switzerland store opened in 2005, while it has operated in Hungary since 2007. Aldi Süd had invested an estimated €800m ($1bn; £670m) in Greece from November 2008 until pulling out on 31 December 2010.
While Aldi Nord has renamed its Dutch and Belgian subsidiaries Combi and Lansa to the Aldi Markt/Aldi Marché brand, Aldi Süd tries to maintain a regional appearance, branding its stores Aldi Süd in Germany, Aldi Suisse in Switzerland, and Hofer in Austria and Slovenia.
Aldi launched in Great Britain, on 5 April 1990, when it opened its first store there in Stechford, Birmingham, using the wholly owned English registered company of Aldi Stores Limited. In October 2013, Aldi opened the 300th store in Great Britain. By 2017, Aldi had over 600 stores there and was opening them at a rate of more than one a week with the aim of having a thousand stores by 2022.
Aldi opened its first store in Sydney in 2001 and has grown rapidly since, maintaining a 12.6% market share as of early 2016. It has still yet to open any stores in Northern Australia in major cities such as Townsville, Cairns or Darwin, much to the frustration of the population. Financial website Canstar rated Australia's supermarkets based on the feedback of 2897 consumers who had visited one in the past month with Aldi coming out on top.
Aldi Süd expanded to the United States under the Aldi banner, having expanded throughout the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. Aldi Süd revealed expansion plans in 2015 and expanded into the Southern California market, where Aldi Nord's Trader Joe's is based. On 25 November 2016, Aldi Süd confirmed that it would expand to China in late 2017.
Hofer, subsidiary of Aldi Süd, opened its first 10 stores in Italy on 1 March 2018. In September 2019, Aldi announced plans to open new stores in the UK at an average of one per week for the next two years.
Aldi Limited (New Zealand) was incorporated in 2001. Although no firm news on store opening there has been numerous speculation since this date in the press often influenced by Aldi by confirmation of operation in New Zealand with a declaration in IP Australia and the appointment of Tom Daunt as Chief Executive of Aldi Australasia.
|Switzerland||ALDI SUISSE AG||Süd||2005||193|
|Total number of Aldi Nord stores||5,293|
|Total number of Aldi Süd stores||5,943|
|Combined total of Aldi stores||11,234|
Until 2004, Aldi stores accepted only cash (since then, German stores have accepted domestic Girocard debit cards). Debit cards also are accepted in the United States, Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Slovenia, and Hungary. All four major credit cards are accepted in the United States as of 1 March 2016. Electronic Benefit Transfer cards are also accepted in the United States.
Outside of Great Britain, United States, Netherlands and France, Aldi generally does not accept credit cards, though Aldi Australia accepts MasterCard and Visa for a 0.5% surcharge and Aldi Ireland accepts Visa and MasterCard with no surcharge. In the United States, as of February 2016, Aldi accepts all four major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover Card), and from the beginning, all credit cards "Carte Bleue" (Visa, American Express or MasterCard) were accepted in France due to the banking system in France where debit cards don't exist; before this, Aldi only accepted debit cards. Aldi has accepted Visa/MasterCard without surcharge throughout Great Britain from October 2014, which had previously been accepted only in Scotland, and throughout Germany from September 2015.
On 9 August 2018, Aldi announced plans to expand its product selection by offering more organic, fresh and easy-to-prepare meals. Aldi also aims to expand to about 2,500 stores in the United States by 2022. On 18 September 2018, Aldi announced its intent to offer grocery delivery in the United States. Aldi began testing grocery delivery in 2017 in select cities such as Atlanta, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois. Grocery delivery is expected to be available nationwide by Thanksgiving 2018.
Aldi stores are noted as examples of so-called no-frills stores that often display a variety of items at discount prices, specializing in staple items, such as food, beverages, toilet paper, sanitary articles, and other inexpensive household items. Many of its products are own brands, with the number of other brands usually limited to a maximum of two for a given item.
Aldi mainly sells exclusively produced, custom-branded products (often very similar to and produced by major brands) with brand names including Grandessa, Happy Farms, Millville, Simply Nature, and Fit & Active.
Branded products carried include HARIBO in Germany, Knoppers in Belgium and France, Marmite and Branston Pickle in Great Britain; and Vegemite and Milo in Australia. Unlike most shops, Aldi does not accept manufacturers' coupons, although some US stores successfully experimented with store coupons (e.g. $10 off a $25 purchase).
In addition to its standard assortment, Aldi has weekly special offers, some of them on more expensive products such as electronics, tools, appliances, or computers. Discount items can include clothing, toys, flowers and gifts. Special offers have limits on quantities, and are for one week. Aldi's early computer offers in Germany, such as a Commodore 64 in 1987, resulted in those products selling out in a few hours.
Aldi is the largest wine retailer in Germany. Some Australian stores now sell alcoholic beverages. Some US stores also sell alcoholic beverages, mainly beer and wine, where permitted by local and state laws.
In March 2019, Aldi Süd launched a smaller format store in the UK called Aldi Local, with first store in Balham, southern London. The store has a slightly smaller number of products than a regular Aldi, with a preference for fresh products, has no trolleys instead having two sizes of baskets and without the notable "middle aisle" of weekly offers. Aldi stores do not play music, except for some stores in Scotland that play Christmas music during December. Some of them have a PA system for announcements (not commercials) but most of them do not have any audio system. In The Netherlands and Belgium, Aldi also sells a-brands.
Aldi has a policy in Germany of not advertising, apart from a weekly newsletter of special prices called "Aldi informs" that is distributed in stores and by direct mail and often printed in local newspapers. It claims this is a cost saving that can be passed on to consumers. In Germany, Aldi has never used an external advertising agency.
In the United States, it advertises in newspapers and on television, as well as print ads distributed in stores, and via the Internet.
In Great Britain, print and television ads have appeared since May 2005.
In Belgium, print, radio and television ads started appearing in late 2017. These ads were based on the positive results of taste-tests where the chain pitted its own products against common name-brand products.
Logos and branding
The two stores Nord and Süd have distinct logos with Nord displaying the entire 'A' for ALDI while Süd unveiled a logo in 1982 which displays only half. In 2006, Aldi Süd modified the logo slightly and then in March 2017, unveiled a new logo which removed the blue box line around the artistic 'A' and revealed a more rounded, 3D look for the logo as well as a new font for the word 'ALDI', further differentiating it from the Aldi Nord logo which had shared the same font for the brand until then.
In the United Kingdom, Aldi has won Supermarket of the Year two years in a row (2012/13), and in 2013, Aldi won the Grocer of the Year Award. However, in February 2015, Aldi narrowly lost to Waitrose for the title of Supermarket of the Year 2015. In April 2015, Aldi overtook Waitrose to become the United Kingdom's sixth-largest supermarket chain. In February 2017, Aldi overtook Co-op to become the United Kingdom's fifth largest supermarket chain. In May 2017, Aldi lost out to Marks & Spencer for the title of Supermarket of the Year 2017 (published by the magazine Which?).
Between 2012 and 2019, Aldi's UK operations became "carbon neutral", with investments in solar, green energy, energy efficiency and offsets reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 53 per cent per meter of sales floor.
In the United States, due to the relatively low staffing of Aldi locations compared to other supermarket chains, Aldi has a reputation of starting employees out at significantly higher than minimum wage, unusual among American supermarkets.
In Ireland, Aldi has been accused of a "lack of corporate responsibility" to their farmer suppliers by the Irish Farmers' Association.
Subsidiaries and joint ventures
Its Austrian and Slovenian Hofer stores serve as distributor for HoT (Hofer Telekom).
Aldi sells low cost alcohol from its alcohol stores. Until March 2016, Aldi had an alcohol website serving the east coast of Australia. This has now been closed down, citing it wishes to focus on expanding the supermarket chain across Australia. In November 2019, Aldi announced same-day beer and wine delivery via a partnership with Instacart.
In Austria and Slovenia through its subsidiary Hofer, Aldi has a joint venture with the local petrol retailer Free Energy (FE) Trading GmbH, to create some no frills petrol stations called Diskont. The 66 stations in Austria and six in Slovenia are on or near the stores, providing self-serve unleaded or diesel fuel by card-operated pumps. These have been in operation since 2009.
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