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Germany: What would Germany be without Aldi?

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

The Albrecht brothers made history with the invention of the discounter. And the high inflation even increases the attractiveness of low-cost providers. But there is one area where there is some catching up to do. In view of the dramatic price increases for food, the discounters are currently experiencing a boom. With their concentration on inexpensive products, they hit the nerve of the times. So it's fitting that the discount inventor Aldi is celebrating an important anniversary this year. 110 years ago, the Aldi founding family Albrecht laid the foundation for their current retail empire. The baker Karl Albrecht started on April 10, 1913 in Essen a "Trade mit Backwaren". From the small beginnings emerged one of the largest trading empires in the world. The sister companies Aldi Nord and Aldi South are now active not only in Europe and North America, but also in Australia.

"The discounters are with their cheap offers today more than ever an important support for many households," said the trade expert Robert Kecskes of the market research company GfK of the German press Agency. No wonder, then, that according to GfK, discounters have increased their market share in Germany from 12.2022 to 34.8 percent within just 36 months until the end of 9 - at the expense of supermarkets and specialist retailers. At the beginning of the year, too, the shift of sales to low-cost suppliers continued unabated. Karl Albrecht Junior and Theo Albrecht write the success story Despite all the pioneering spirit, however, the baker Karl Albrecht is not behind the success story of the Albrecht family. It is his sons Karl Albrecht Junior and Theo Albrecht who have made the company great. After the death of their father, they took over Responsibility in his parents' business and developed the discount concept. The first "Aldi" store, the abbreviation stands for "Albrecht-Diskount", was opened in 1962, a good 60 years ago. The original recipe for success: A small assortment in a sparse ambience at rock-bottom prices. This taught Aldi and a little later also the rival Lidl in Germany and subsequently also in many other countries, the supermarket competition feared. However, today's Aldi stores have little in common with those of the early days. Where once cold neon lights and goods on wooden pallets dominated the storescape, modern shop design with a feel-good ambience has long since found its way. And in addition to the classic own brands, more and more branded products can now be found at Aldi. "People today want a pleasant shopping environment. The discounters had a lot of catching up to do and they did it," said Kecskes. Ironically, with their most important feature - the low prices - the discounters are struggling at the moment. They, too, have recently had to raise prices sharply - in percentage terms, even more than many branded companies, as Kecskes reports. This is because the drastic increase in energy and procurement costs had an even greater impact on own-brand brands, which are priced at a lower level, than on manufacturer brands with their generally significantly higher advertising expenditure and profit margins. More decisive for customers, however, is probably that, despite the price jump, private labels are usually still significantly cheaper at the checkout than branded goods. Aldi neglects online retail So is everything in the green in the anniversary year? Not quite. According to retail expert Gerrit Heinemann from the University Lower Rhine still a neglected construction site: online trading. "So far, discounters have not had to deal with the topic of online trading in a big way," says the retail expert. But it is only a matter of time before the topic becomes relevant for them. "And then it will be difficult for Aldi, because rival Lidl has a considerable lead here."

In fact, Lidl has managed to secure a place among the top ten German e-commerce retailers with its online shop in the latest ranking of the Cologne retail research institute EHI. With a turnover of over one billion euros, lidl.de took 8th place in the ranking, although the discounter hardly offers any food online. For comparison: Aldi does not appear at all with its online shop among the top 100.

Heinemann is convinced that the imbalance should set alarm bells ringing at Aldi. "It's easy for Lidl to pull the lever and sell food when the time comes. Aldi is far from ready."




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