Karl Albrecht

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Karl Albrecht
Karl Hans Albrecht

(1920-02-20)20 February 1920
Died16 July 2014(2014-07-16) (aged 94)
Essen, Germany
Known forCo-founder of Aldi
SpouseMia Tenbrink

Karl Hans Albrecht (German: [ˈalbʁɛçt]; 20 February 1920 – 16 July 2014) was a German entrepreneur who founded the discount supermarket chain Aldi with his brother Theo. He was the richest person in Germany for many years. In February 2014, he was ranked the 21st-richest person in the world by Hurun Report.[2]


First Aldi store in Schonnebeck, Essen

Karl and Theo Albrecht were born and raised in a Catholic[3] family in modest circumstances in Essen, Germany. Their father, Karl Sr, was employed as a miner and later as a baker's assistant.[4] Their mother Anna, née Siepmann, had a small grocery store in the workers' quarter of Schonnebeck [de], a suburb of Essen. Theo completed an apprenticeship in his mother's store, while Karl worked in a delicatessen shop. Karl served in the Wehrmacht during World War II and was wounded on the Eastern Front. After the war, the brothers jointly took over their mother's business and founded Albrecht KG.[5]

In 1960, the brothers had a disagreement over whether to stock cigarettes. While Theo wanted to sell them, Karl believed they would attract shoplifters.[6] As a result, they divided their stores into two parts, with Theo retaining all stores north of the Ruhr, while Karl retained all stores south of the Ruhr. The first Aldi (short for Albrecht Discount) was opened in 1962, and the two groups became known as Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd, respectively.[7]

Aldi around the world (blue = Aldi north, orange = Aldi south)

In 1994, Karl Albrecht removed himself from the daily operations of Aldi Süd and took the position of chairman of the board until 2002. At the beginning of 2002, he also relinquished this position, thereby completely ceding control of the firm. As of 2010s, the business is no longer run by any of Karl Albrecht's family members.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Karl Albrecht was a very reclusive man, who had not taken part in public life for several years prior to his death. As a result, little is known about him. Forbes magazine reported that he had two children, neither of whom was employed by Aldi. He reportedly lived in Essen, as did his brother Theo until the latter's death. Golf was one of his hobbies, and Albrecht played the sport on his own golf course, the Öschberghof, which he built in 1976. He also raised orchids.[5]


In 2014, Albrecht was listed as one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of US$23.14 billion.[8] Forbes magazine listed him as the third richest man in the world in 2004.[9] In 2012, with an estimated net worth in 2011 of US$25.4 billion, the magazine ranked him tenth on its list of billionaires – making him the oldest billionaire in the Top 20 list.[5] Upon his death, Albrecht was named the richest person in Germany,[10] and the fourth-richest in Europe.[11]


  1. ^ Dawkins, David. "Billionaire Aldi Family Fortune To Hit German Court As Son Sues Mother For Embezzling Funds: Reports". www.forbes.com.
  2. ^ "Hurun Report Global Rich List". Hurun Report. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  3. ^ "BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) – Frugal to a fault, discounter Aldi expands in the U.S." Archived 12 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine by Thomas Schuler, The Atlantic Times, March 2009
  4. ^ Paterson, Tony (22 July 2014). "The story of Karl Albrecht, the man who destroyed Tesco". The Independent. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "The World's Billionaires (2012): No. 10 Karl Albrecht". Forbes. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  6. ^ Rice, Xan (5 March 2019). "The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  7. ^ Diekmann, Florian (21 July 2014). "Nachruf auf den Gründer von Aldi und Discount-erfinder". Der Spiegel (obituary) (in German)
  8. ^ Karl Albrecht, LSA Conso, 22 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Gates Still World's Richest Man - 2004-02-27". Voice of America. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  10. ^ Scally, Derek (28 July 2014). "Billionaire Aldi brother kept it simple to the end". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 3 August 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  11. ^ "The World's Billionaires (2010): 1–24". Forbes. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011.

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