Trader Joe’s owner dies at 88

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

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The man considered one of the fathers of the discount store strategy — a cofounder of the global Aldi supermarket chain and the developer of Trader Joe’s in the U.S. — has died. He was 88.

Theo Albrecht died Saturday in his home city of Essen, Germany, his company’s Aldi Nord division said in a statement Wednesday. The company did not give a cause of the billionaire’s death.

Albrecht was the driving force behind Aldi’s internationalization, expanding stores to France, Spain, Portugal, Poland and the United States.

Albrecht and his elder brother Karl both served as German soldiers in World War II then returned home to Essen and took over a small grocery store their parents owned. By 1950 they were already running 13 stores and five years later they had expanded throughout Germany’s western industrial Ruhr basin.

The first Aldi stores — an acronym standing for “Albrecht Discount” — opened in the early 1960s under the motto: “concentrating on the basics: a limited selection of goods for daily needs.”

Aldi now has more than 4,000 outlets in Germany alone, where it is known for its no-frills shopping environment, streamlined processes and a limited range of discount products.

The two brothers in the 1960s decided to divide up what was then West Germany, with Theo running stores in the north. However, they used their combined bargaining power to lower purchasing prices, enabling them to garner higher profit margins while keeping prices low.


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