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Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG
Formerly called
Schwarz Unternehmens Treuhand KG
Industry Retailing
  • 1930; 87 years ago (1930)
  • 1973; 44 years ago (1973)
Founder Dieter Schwarz
Headquarters Neckarsulm, Germany
Number of locations
10,000+ in 28 European countries and the United States
Area served
United States
Key people
Jesper Højer (CEO)
Products Discount store
Revenue Increase 85.7 billion (2016)[1]
Owner Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG
Number of employees
Parent Schwarz Gruppe
Divisions Lidl, Kaufland
A typical Lidl store. Products are stacked on removable pallets for easy re-stocking
European countries in which Lidl is active

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG (German pronunciation: [ˈliːdl̩]; UK: /ˈlɪdəl/ LID-əl), formerly Schwarz Unternehmenstreuhand KG, is a German global discount supermarket chain, based in Neckarsulm, Germany,[2] that operates over 10,000 stores across Europe, and expanded to the United States in 2017. It belongs to the holding company Schwarz Gruppe, which also owns the store chains Handelshof and hypermarket Kaufland.

Lidl is the chief competitor of the similar German discount chain Aldi.


In 1930, Josef Schwarz became a partner in Südfrüchte Großhandel Lidl & Co., a fruit wholesaler, and he developed the company into a general food wholesaler. As a result of the war, the company was destroyed in 1944, and a 10-year reconstruction period soon started[citation needed].

In 1977, under his son Dieter Schwarz, the Schwarz-Gruppe began to focus on discount markets, larger supermarkets, and cash and carry wholesale markets. He did not want to use the name Schwarz-Markt (Schwarzmarkt means "black market") and rather use the name of Josef Schwarz's former business partner, A. Lidl, but legal reasons prevented him from taking over the name for his discount stores. When he discovered a newspaper article about the painter and retired schoolteacher Ludwig Lidl, he bought the rights to the name from him for 1,000 German marks.[3][4]

Lidl is part of the Schwarz Group, the fifth-largest retailer in the world with sales of $82.4 billion (2011).[5]

The first Lidl discount store was opened in 1973, copying the Aldi concept. Schwarz rigorously removed merchandise that did not sell from the shelves, and cut costs by keeping the size of the retail outlets as small as possible. By 1977, the Lidl chain comprised 33 discount stores.

Since launching in the United Kingdom in September 1994, Lidl has grown consistently, and today has over 650 stores. While it is still a small player in the United Kingdom, with a grocery market share of less than 5%, its importance, along with that of continental, no frills competitor Aldi is growing, with half of shoppers in the United Kingdom visiting Aldi or Lidl over Christmas.[6]

Sven Seidel was appointed CEO of the company in March 2014, after the previous CEO Karl-Heinz Holland stepped down.[7] Holland had served as chief executive since 2008 but left due to undisclosed "unbridgeable" differences over future strategy. Seidel stepped down from his position in February 2017 after Manager Magazin reported he had fallen out of favour with Klaus Gehrig, who has headed the Schwarz Group since 2004. Seidel was succeeded as CEO by Dane Jesper Højer, previously head of Lidl's international buying operation.[1]

In June 2015, the company announced it would establish a United States headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.[8] The first twenty stores in the United States are set to open in the summer of 2017, throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with a predicted total of one hundred stores by the end of 2017.[9] Lidl is focusing on locations in East Coast states, between Pennsylvania and Georgia,[10] and as far west as Ohio.[11] However, issues may arise, due to the unrelated chain of stores also known as Lidl in the United States.

Other services[edit]

In October 2009, Lidl Movies was launched in the United Kingdom,[12] undercutting Tesco DVD Rental, which had previously been the United Kingdom's cheapest online rental service for DVDs. The service was powered by OutNow DVD Rental. OutNow went into liquidation in October 2011, taking Lidl Movies with it.[13]

In January 2012, Lidl launched bakeries in their stores across Europe. They consist of a small baking area with a number of ovens, together with an area where bread and pastries, such as croissants, are displayed for sale.

In August 2013, Lidl UK also launched an online photo service, which prints photos and photo gifts at discounted prices.[14]

Approach to retailing[edit]

Like fellow German supermarket Aldi, Lidl has a zero waste, no-frills, pass the savings to the consumer approach of displaying most products in their original delivery cartons, allowing the customers to take the product directly from the carton. When the carton is empty, it is simply replaced with a full one. Staffing is minimal, so that a value and savings may be realized by the consumer and wages are higher for employees. The marketing savings realize a profit for consumer and investor alike. Lidl has carved out its own niche with this approach.

In contrast to Aldi, there are generally more branded products on offer and while Lidl imports many low-priced gourmet foods from Europe, it also sources many local products from the country where the store is located. Like Aldi, Lidl has special weekly offers, and its stock of non-food items often changes with time. In contrast to Aldi, Lidl advertises extensively in its homeland of Germany.

The Lidl operation in the United Kingdom took a different approach than the head office, with focus on marketing and public relations, and providing employee benefits not required by law, including paying the independently verified living wage and offering a staff discount. Upmarket products were introduced, especially in the lead-up to Christmas. This required significant investment in marketing to produce dramatic sales growth but had an effect on Lidl’s logistical operation and pressure on profits. Ronny Gottschlich, who ran the store chain in the United Kingdom for the six years to 2016, was responsible for this approach.

It led to friction with head office, due to the cost involved, and in September 2016, Gottschlich unexpectedly left and was replaced by the Austrian sales and operations director, German-national Christian Härtnagel.[15] Lidl continued to have ambitious investment plans in the United Kingdom, potentially ultimately doubling the number of stores to 1,500. In the financial year of 2015, Lidl Great Britain's revenue from its stores of over 630 throughout Britain was £4.7 billion.

Reflective inquiry[edit]

Trade unions in Germany and other countries have maintained their position over time on Lidl handling workers and Lidl's stance away from European directives on working time, and other criticisms. These viewpoints have been published in the Black Book on the Schwarz Retail Company published in Germany and now also available in English.[16]

The Times[17] notes that Lidl managers work overtime hours and are directed to sign out of the Working Time Directive when starting with the company, while The Guardian reported other allegations in the United Kingdom and abroad. Similar to quality control cameras in many US grocery markets, hidden cameras have been found in one store in Wasbek, north Germany, to monitor its workforce and make notes on employee behaviour, focusing on attempting to sack female workers who might become pregnant or to force staff at warehouses to do "piece-rate" work.[18]

In July 2003, a judge in Savona, Italy, sentenced Lidl for opposition to union policies, a crime in Italy.[19] Lidl has been criticised in both the United Kingdom and Ireland for not allowing workers to join unions. This prompted a campaign by Labour Youth which ultimately led to former National Recruitment Officer and Acting Chairperson of the organisation, Darren Bates, resigning due to a lack of support for businesses which create jobs.

In November 2014, much like many stores in The United States, Lidl UK staff were forbidden to speak any language other than English, not even Welsh (a language used in Wales). The Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith) said the policy was "appalling". Cymdeithas yr Iaith's chairman, Jamie Bevan, said that "since the Welsh language bill was passed four years ago, it is illegal to stop staff from speaking to customers in Welsh".[20]


Lidl stores are in Switzerland, Serbia, United States and each member state of the European Union, excluding Latvia and Estonia. According to several Estonian city councils, as of 2017 Lidl is drawing up detailed plans for stores in Estonia. Confirmation of expansion into the United States was confirmed on 15 February 2017 with plans for up to 100 stores on the country's East Coast. The first 10 stores were announced grand openings on 15 June 2017 in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.[21]

Lidl opened its first UK store in 1994 and grew rapidly during the first decade of the 21st century.

Australian markets are pending; announcements expected in 2017.


Country Number of stores
European Union Austria 203 [22]
European Union Belgium 300
European Union Bulgaria 85[23]
European Union Croatia 92 [24]
European Union Czech Republic 220
European Union Cyprus 16
European Union Denmark 103
European Union Finland 160 [25]
European Union France 1500
European Union Germany 3200
European Union Greece 226
European Union Hungary 156
European Union Ireland 148[26]
European Union Italy 552 [27]
European Union Luxembourg 6
European Union Lithuania 30 (planned expansion to ≈80) [28]
European Union Malta 7
European Union Netherlands 400
European Union Poland 610 [29]
European Union Portugal 243
European Union Romania 201
 Serbia 20 (to be opened 2018) [30]
European Union Slovakia 130
European Union Slovenia 49 [31]
European Union Spain 532[32]
European Union Sweden 169 [33][34]
  Switzerland 100[35]
 United Kingdom 650[36]
 United States 21


  1. ^ a b Thomasson, Emma (7 February 2017). "Lidl replaces CEO after less than three years". Retail Analysis. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Impressum." Lidl. Retrieved 28 September 2012. "Adresse: Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG Stiftsbergstraße 1 74167 Neckarsulm "
  3. ^ "Aldis Erzfeind" (in German). Retrieved 4 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "Der Geheimnis-Krämer" (in German). Retrieved 4 March 2017. 
  5. ^ "User account | Supermarket News". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Half of UK shoppers visited Lidl, Aldi over Xmas - fastFT: Market-moving news and views, 24 hours a day". 13 January 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Ricadela, Aaron (21 March 2014). "German Grocer Lidl Names Replacement CEO After Holland Departure". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Vozzella, Laura. "McAuliffe bags German grocer Lidl, bringing hundreds of jobs to Virginia". The Washington Post. 
  9. ^ "Lidl". 30 August 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Thomasson, Emma. "German discounter Lidl starts hiring for U.S. stores launch". Reuters. Yahoo! News. 13 December 2016.
  11. ^ Staff, WYTV (18 April 2017). "German-based grocery store wants to build at site of Austintown bar". Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "Latest News – Which? News". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Kukiewicz, Julia (28 February 2013). "OutNow: A Look Back". Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Our Offers". Lidl Photos. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Sarah Butler (10 September 2016). "Lidl UK boss unexpectedly leaves German supermarket". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  16. ^ "Black Book on Lidl in English" (PDF). 
  17. ^ Boyes, R. (27 March 2008). "Lidl the Big Brother Supermarket Is Watching You". The Times.
  18. ^ Pidd, Helen (14 March 2007). "Cheap But Not So Cheerful". The Guardian.
  19. ^ "Il tribunale di Savona condanna Lidl Italia per comportamento antisindacale" (in Italian). Federazione Italiana Lavoratori Comercio Turismo e Servici (Italian Federation of Workers in Commerce, Tourism, and Services). 9 July 2003. Retrieved 10 September 2016. 
  20. ^ "'English only' rule at Lidl shops sparks Welsh row". BBC News. 7 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Lidl's first US stores in Carolinas, Virginia". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  22. ^ "Lidl treibt die Expansion in Österreich voran «". 27 July 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  23. ^ "LIDL Заслужава си! Нашите магазини". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Šire prodajnu mrežu: Lidl otvorio prvu trgovinu na najvećem hrvatskom otoku". Poslovni dnevnik (in Croatian). 29 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  25. ^ "Lidl Corporate Info" (in Finnish). Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Anglo Celt - 19 new jobs created and new Virginia Lidl store". Anglo Celt. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  27. ^ "Volantini Lidl". CentroVolantini. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  28. ^ Vizbarienė, Rūta. "„Lidl“ atidaro parduotuvę Panevėžyje". 
  29. ^ "LIDL sklepy spożywcze – gazetka, promocje, przepisy, praca". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "Lidl: Prve prodavnice u Srbiji 2018. godine". Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  31. ^ "Lidlove ljubljanske trgovine del UNICEF-ove mreže Varnih točk". Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  32. ^ {{cite web|url= |title=Lidl Spain Stores
  33. ^ "Medarbetare - Lidl Sverige" (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  34. ^ "Pressmeddelande - Lidl Sverige tecknar fastighetsskötselavtal" (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "A propos de Lidl Suisse". 
  36. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 3 June 2017. 

External links[edit]