Theo Albrecht

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Theo Albrecht
Born Theodor Paul Albrecht
(1922-03-28)28 March 1922
Essen, Rhine Province, Germany
Died 24 July 2010(2010-07-24) (aged 88)
Essen, Germany[1]
Nationality German
Ethnicity German
Occupation Entrepreneur, owned Trader Joe's and Aldi Nord
Net worth $16.7 billion
Religion Catholic[2]
Children Theo Albrecht, Jr
Berthold Albrecht (deceased)
Relatives Karl Albrecht (brother)

Theodor Paul "Theo" Albrecht (28 March 1922 – 24 July 2010[1]) was a German entrepreneur, who in 2010 was ranked by Forbes as the 31st richest person in the world, with a net worth of $16.7 billion.[3] He owned and was the CEO of the Aldi Nord discount supermarket chain. In the US he owned the Trader Joe's specialty grocery store chain. His brother Karl Albrecht owns the Aldi Süd discount supermarket chain. The two chains originally were a single family enterprise until a friendly division of assets in 1960. Aldi Süd operates the Aldi groceries in the United States. So Aldi and Trader Joe's, while owned by the brothers, have separate and distinct ownership and operations.

Business[edit]

His utilization of a low-cost business model revolutionized the German grocery market in combination with his brother’s. Theo Albrecht and his brother Karl formed the supermarket on the foundations of their mother’s small grocery store. Their mother's store opened in 1913, in Essen after members of the family’s return from the war and after Theodor’s father, a miner developed the lung condition of emphysema.[4] Wanting to avoid the mines, Theodor learned about the grocery business from his mother. The name of the chain Aldi came from ‘Albrecht Discount’ with their motto being ‘The best quality at the lowest price’.[5] The supermarket chain made Theodor alone a fortune of approximately £11 billion according to Forbes.[6] Theo Albrecht and his brother Karl took over their mother’s supermarket, making it into one of Europe’s largest chains of supermarkets. Theodor and Karl Albrecht split the Aldi Company they founded in 1960 after a dispute regarding the selling of cigarettes in the stores.[4] The supermarket divided into two legally separate operating units with two geographical locations. Theodor's Aldi Nord set to operate in the north of Germany and Karl's Aldi Süd, set to operate in Germany’s south. The progression of Aldi under Karl and Theodor Albrecht stands as one of Germany’s greatest stories of success. Theodor retired from daily store operations in 1993 and then remained as a chairman on the board. [2]

Kidnapped[edit]

In 1971, Albrecht was kidnapped for 17 days. A ransom of seven million German marks (approximately $2 million at the time) was paid for his release. [7] He was held at gunpoint by a lawyer of the name Heinz-Joachim Ollenburg with the accomplice Paul Kron. The ransom sum was delivered by the Bishop of Essen. His kidnappers were eventually caught by authorities, but only half of the money was recovered.[2] Albrecht later tried to claim the ransom as a tax deductible business expense in court.[2]

Personal life[edit]

During World War II, Theodor was conscripted into the Wehrmacht where Theodor served with Rommel’s Afrika Korps in an army division.[5] During WWII Theodor was captured by the Americans in Tunisia as a prisoner of war, but in 1946 he returned to Germany.[4] It was said that his humble and harsh childhood formed Theodor’s early appreciation for the value of money.

Theodor’s kidnapping in 1971 partially gives reason for his and the family’s hermit-like manner of existence. The kidnapping left an impact on Theodor’s private concerns, causing him to drive to work using a different route every day in an armored automobile. Little is known about Theodor Albrecht and the Albrecht family’s personal life. The Albrecht family are known to be very reclusive and described by Forbes as ‘more reclusive than the yeti’.[2] Characterized by their privacy, Theodor has rarely been pictured by photographers and he has never made a public statement. He was also claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic.[4]

Theodor and his brother Karl were once said to own an island located in the North Sea where they would indulge in their hobbies such as golf and pastimes including the collecting of antique typewriters.[8] Theodor and the Albrecht family, keeping out of the public spotlight are known to own highly secured estates overlooking the Ruhr valley. Claimed as being obsessed with frugality, it was said that Theodor collected and used pencil stubs frequently. He was also known to wear cheaper, poorly fitted suits and preferred plain meals with many potatoes.[8] When he was asked to approve the plans for a new store in the Netherlands, he stated that the design was good but the paper it was drawn on was too thick: "If you use thinner paper we will save money." [7]

Both Albrecht brothers have been reported by journalists to be highly reclusive; very little is known about their personal lives. The last published photo of Theo Albrecht dates to 1971, one day after his kidnapping. Another photo of the two Albrecht brothers together was taken in 1987 by journalist Franz Ruch.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Aldi-Gründer Theo Albrecht ist tot" [Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht is dead]. Der Spiegel (in German). 28 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Theo Albrecht". The Telegraph (London). 30 July 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Forbes profile page on Theo Albrecht March 2010
  4. ^ a b c d Hall, Allan (7 December 2012). "Secretive Aldi family announce death of main heir to £11 billion supermarket fortune..". Daily Mail UK. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Theo Albrecht: One of the two brothers behind the Aldi supermarket empire". The Independent (London). 14 August 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Theo Albrecht, Jr. & family". Forbes. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Brown, Emma (29 July 2010). "Theo Albrecht, 88, dies; started Aldi food chain and expanded Trader Joe's". Washington Post UK. Retrieved 2 April 2014. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b van der Vat, Dan (5 August 2010). "Theo Albrecht obituary". The Guardian UK. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "The World’s Billionaires". Forbes. 

External links[edit]