One of world’s richest men and Aldi co-founder dies at 94

Karl Albrecht, co-founder of the Aldi grocery store empire and one of the world’s richest people, has died in the western German city of Essen at the age of 94.

Essen’s city hall said Mr Albrecht was buried in a family plot in a small ceremony in the city’s Bredeney district where he lived. Aldi’s press office said Mr Albrecht died on July 16.

“He created a corporate culture of mutual respect, he trusted his employees and their talents, and he gave them a chance to use them,” said Aldi spokeswoman Kirsten Gess in a statement. “Our sympathies are with his family.”

Mr Albrecht and his brother Theo, who died in 2010, worked in their parents’ grocery store as they were growing up.

After serving as German soldiers in the Second World War, the two took over the business and began a rapid expansion. By early 1960 they were operating 300 stores.

After splitting the company into two, the brothers in 1962 rebranded the group Aldi – a contraction of “Albrecht Discount” – with Karl Albrecht leading Aldi South, and Theo Albrecht taking Aldi North. They still worked together, using their combined bargaining power to negotiate lower purchasing prices.

In 1994, Karl Albrecht removed himself from the daily operations of Aldi Süd and became chairman of the board. At the beginning of 2002, he also relinquished this position, thereby completely ceding control of the firm. Today, the business is no longer run by any of Karl Albrecht’s family.

Their motto was “concentrating on the basics: a limited selection of goods for daily needs” and the formula sold well.

Today the group has thousands of stores in 17 countries and threatened the profits of traditional supermarkets in Britain.

Both brothers shunned publicity throughout their lives, and when Forbes featured them in 1992 as two of the world’s richest men, it had to use silhouettes to illustrate the article because no pictures had been taken for years.

Albrecht was ranked 24 on this year’s Forbes list of the world’s richest people with an estimated net worth of $25.9bn (£15.2bn).