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Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG
Privately held company
Industry Retailing
Founded 1930; 86 years ago (1930)
Founder Dieter Schwarz
Headquarters Neckarsulm, Germany
Number of locations
Over 10,000 stores, in 28 countries in Europe
Area served
Most of Europe
Products Discount store, hypermarket/supercenter/superstore
Revenue € 63,35 billion euro (2013)
Owner Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG
Number of employees
Parent Schwarz Gruppe
Divisions Lidl, Kaufland
Slogan Lidl Surprises
A typical Lidl store. Products are stacked on removable pallets for easy re-stocking
European countries in which Lidl is active
A Lidl store in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
A Lidl store in Lomma, Sweden
Lidl store in a former railway station in Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG (German pronunciation: [ˈliːdəl]; UK /ˈlɪdəl/ LID-əl), formerly Schwarz Unternehmens Treuhand KG, is a German global discount supermarket chain, based in Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany,[1] that operates over 10,000 stores across Europe. 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.


The company was founded in 1930 by a member of the Schwarz family, and was called Schwarz Lebensmittel-Sortimentsgroßhandlung (Schwarz Foods Assortment Wholesale). Lidl has since established itself in over 20 countries throughout Europe.

The name Lidl is the surname of a former business partner of Josef Schwarz's, Ludwig Lidl, a retired schoolteacher, and Josef's son Dieter Schwarz bought the rights to the name from him for 1,000 German marks, as he could not use the name Schwarz Markt[citation needed]; Schwarzmarkt means "black market". Lidl is part of the Schwarz Group, the fifth-largest retailer in the world with sales of $82.4 billion (2011).[2]

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. In 1977, under his son Dieter Schwarz, the Schwarz-Gruppe began to focus on discount markets, larger supermarkets, and cash and carry wholesale markets. As a result of the war, the company was destroyed in 1944, and a ten-year reconstruction period soon started.

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 590 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.[3]

In June 2015, the company announced it would be establishing a United States headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.[4] US stores are expected to open in 2018.

Other services[edit]

In October 2009, Lidl Movies was launched in the United Kingdom,[5] undercutting Tesco DVD Rental, which had previously been the UK's cheapest online DVD rental service. The service was powered by OutNow DVD Rental. OutNow went into liquidation in October 2011, taking Lidl Movies with it.[6]

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.[7]

Approach to retailing[edit]

Like fellow German supermarket Aldi, Lidl has a no-frills approach of displaying most of its 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 profit can still be made even though the prices are low.

Lidl grocery store in Angers, France in 2013

Together with Aldi, 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.


Trade unions in Germany and other countries have repeatedly criticised Lidl for mistreatment of workers, breach of European directives on working time and other abuses. These have been published in the Black Book on the Schwarz Retail Company published in Germany and are now also available in English.[8]

While The Times notes that Lidl managers work excessive hours, being obliged to sign out of the Working Time Directive when starting with the company, both The Guardian[9] and The Times[10] in the United Kingdom, amongst other allegations have reported that Lidl spies on its workforce with cameras, makes extensive notes on employee behaviour, particularly focusing on attempting to sack female workers who might become pregnant and also forces staff at warehouses to do "piece-rate" work.

Lidl management has denied the charges. In July 2003, in Italy, a judge in Savona sentenced Lidl for anti-union policies, a crime in that country.[11] Lidl has been criticised in both the United Kingdom and Ireland for not allowing workers to join unions.

In March 2008, the German news magazine Stern released a cover story reporting systematic surveillance of Lidl workers, including the most intimate details of their private affairs.[12][13][14]

In November 2014, Lidl UK staff were forbidden to speak any language other than English – including Welsh. The Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith) said the policy was "appalling". Cymdeithas yr Iaith's chairman, Jamie Bevan, added that "since the Welsh language bill was passed four years ago, it is illegal to stop staff from speaking to customers in Welsh".[15]

The 'English only' rule provoked protests from the Polish community in Kirkcaldy. The incident was broadly commented on in the press[16][17][18][19][20] and the policy was ridiculed. Poles complained that they were discriminated against, as they couldn't be served in their native language any more.

One of the Polish protesters, speaking with The Scotsman, said: "I cannot imagine an opposite situation, where a British worker is not allowed to speak to a British customer in the English language anywhere in Europe".[21] Eventually, the policy was changed under the pressure of the public.[22][23]


Opening weekend by Lidl in Vilnius, Lithuania

There are Lidl stores in each member state of the European Union excluding the Latvia and Estonia, and also in Switzerland.


Country Number of stores
 Austria 198[24]
 Belgium 300
 Bulgaria 80[25]
 Croatia 86 [26]
 Czech Republic 220
 Cyprus 14
 Denmark 94
 Finland 147 [27]
 France 1500
 Germany 3000
 Greece 226
 Hungary 156
 Ireland 182
 Italy 552 [28]
 Luxembourg 6
 Lithuania 20 (planned expansion to ≈80) [29][30]
 Malta 7
 Netherlands 400
 Poland 525 [31]
 Portugal 243
 Romania 193
 Slovakia 130
 Slovenia 46 [32]
 Spain 527 [33]
 Sweden 169 [34][35]
  Switzerland 100[36]
 United Kingdom 630


  1. ^ "Impressum." Lidl. Retrieved 28 September 2012. "Adresse: Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG Stiftsbergstraße 1 74167 Neckarsulm "
  2. ^ "User account | Supermarket News". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Half of UK shoppers visited Lidl, Aldi over Xmas - fastFT: Market-moving news and views, 24 hours a day". 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  4. ^ Vozzella, Laura. "McAuliffe bags German grocer Lidl, bringing hundreds of jobs to Virginia". The Washington Post. 
  5. ^ "Latest News – Which? News". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Kukiewicz, Julia (28 February 2013). "OutNow: A Look Back". Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Our Offers". Lidl Photos. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Black Book on Lidl in English" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Pidd, Helen (14 March 2007). "Cheap But Not So Cheerful". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Boyes, R. (27 March 2008). "Lidl the Big Brother Supermarket Is Watching You". The Times.
  11. ^ "Il tribunale di Savona condanna Lidl Italia per comportamento antisindacale" (in Italian). Il Magazine. 9 July 2003. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "'English only' rule at Lidl shops sparks Welsh row". BBC News. 7 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "Lidl Polish workers banned from speaking own language". 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  17. ^ "Polish workers at Lidl told to stop speaking their native language or they will be sacked". 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  18. ^ "Speak English or face sack: Kirkcaldy store tells Polish staff to stop speaking their native language". Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  19. ^ "FIFE LIDL STORE BANS STAFF FROM SPEAKING POLISH TO CUSTOMERS". 2014-11-08. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  20. ^ "Polish Lidl employees banned from speaking Polish". 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  21. ^ "Lidl Polish workers banned from speaking own language". 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  22. ^ "Lidl performs U-turn over Polish language ban". 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  23. ^ "Lidl UK apologises over Polish language ban". 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2015-09-20. 
  24. ^ "Lidl Austria Company Profile". Retrieved 27 October 2009. 
  25. ^ "LIDL Заслужава си! Нашите магазини". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "Lidl želi preteći Plodine i imati čak 120 trgovina u Hrvatskoj". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "Lidl Corporate Info" (in Finnish). Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "Volantini Lidl". CentroVolantini. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Atidarytas "Lidl" logistikos centras Kauno rajone" (in Lithuanian). Verslo žinios. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  31. ^ "LIDL sklepy spożywcze – gazetka, promocje, przepisy, praca". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "Lidlove ljubljanske trgovine del UNICEF-ove mreže Varnih točk". Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  33. ^ Lebensmittelzeitung, Lebensmittelhandel Spanien 2014
  34. ^ "Medarbetare - Lidl Sverige" (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "Pressmeddelande - Lidl Sverige tecknar fastighetsskötselavtal" (in Swedish). Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  36. ^ "A propos de Lidl Suisse". 

External links[edit]