Today, Aldi is a major retailer with 10,000 outlets in 18 countries but world domination wasn’t in the thoughts of Karl Albrecht and his brother Theo when they founded the discount retailer back in 1913 when they pair opened a modest store in a suburb of Essen. When Karl bought out a shop being run by F. W. Judt which advertised itself as “the cheapest food source” he picked up that notion and used it as the basis of his business plan, which helped form the foundation of the Aldi chain we know today.
By the 1950s, the brothers had 13 stores in the Ruhr Valley. Each was run with the same principle in mind and the same practices were employed. The stores sold food as cheaply as they could by minimising waste. That meant that no fresh food was on offer as that has a limited shelf life. They didn’t advertise at all, and all their outlets were as small as possible to minimise rental costs.
What people don’t know about Aldi’s origins is that the shops only came about because of Karl’s emphysema. If he had not contracted that, he would have worked down the mines like his father and Aldi would not have come to be.
[Image - Alfred Wagg Pictures - Wikimedia Commons]