The Albrecht brothers, Karl and Theo, opened their first store in 1948 under the Albrecht Discount fascia in Essen, Germany. In the early 1960s they had around 350 stores and divided the business into two, Aldi Nord (run by Theo) and Aldi Sud (run by Karl). Now with more than 6,000 stores, 268 of which are in the UK, Aldi still operates in two divisions, Aldi Nord, based in Essen, which manages operations in northern Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France, Spain, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and Aldi Sud, based in Mulheimm, which manages operations in southern Germany, Austria, the UK, Australia, Ireland and the US.
There are significant differences between the way the two arms of the company work. Aldi Nord tends to be less ready to innovate and adopt new products and prefers a lengthier listing process, while Aldi Sud, which the UK comes under, has adapted its model to meet changing market and consumer requirements by introducing organic food, prepared salads, fresh meat and a debit card.
Nevertheless, all of Aldi’s stores share a number of characteristics:
Stores’ sizes range from 500 sq m to 1,300 sq m. They are freehold, edge of town, standalone sites on major roads
Product range is between 600 to 800 SKUs
Grocery offer is dominated by exclusive own labels
Limited promotional emphasis on grocery
Products are merchandised on pallets
Uniform pricing strategy across each country
Between five and 10 members of staff per store