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Karl Albrecht, Co-Founder of Global Supermarket Dynasty Aldi, Dies at 94

Aldi store, Essen Schoenbeck, Cropped, July 2014
The building in Schoenebeck neighborhood of Essen in northwest Germany, where Karl and Theo Albrecht started the Aldi retailer empire.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Aldi co-founder Karl Albrecht, the last surviving founder of his family’s discount supermarket empire, was one of the last living entrepreneurs who helped shape post-war German reconstruction.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Karl and his brother Theo Albrecht founded Aldi from a family store in Essen, Germany.
    • The brothers went on to become Germany’s richest men, and the world’s largest supermarket retailers.
    • In Germany, Aldi has more than 4,000 stores and is one of the country’s most popular retail channels.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Karl Albrecht, the reclusive co-founder of the world’s leading food discounter Aldi Group and among the last of Germany’s great post-war business patriarchs, has passed away at the age of 94.

The retail magnate was laid to rest Monday morning, according to a spokesperson for his hometown of Essen, a former coal-mining town in northwestern Germany where Karl and his brother Theo Albrecht took over their mother’s family-run store in 1945.

Mr. Albrecht, whose brother died in 2010, passed away last Wednesday, but his family released the news after his burial had taken place.

The Albrecht brothers took control of their mother’s general “Colonial Wares” store to embark on an expansion that would see them become the two richest men in Germany. In their lifetimes, the pair defined a discount form of retailing attuned to changing social norms that became a symbol of Germany’s “Economic Miracle” after World War II.

In the decade after the war, Aldi expanded during German reconstruction to 77 stores by 1954.

 

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