The A-Z of the Aldi boom
Branding Eli Greenblat A is for the Albrecht brothers, Karl and Theo, who founded the German global retail chain in 1946 when they took over their mother’s small shop in Essen. Aldi has 10,000 stores in 18 countries, arriving in Australia in 2001. B is for Berthold Albrecht, one of Germany’s wealthiest men and the son of Aldi co-founder Theo. The Albrecht family has always been ultra-secretive and when Berthold died in 2012 at the age of 58 his death was kept secret for a month. C is for cigarettes. It was an argument over whether Aldi should sell cigarettes that led to the split of Aldi by the two founding brothers, each taking different parts of Germany, and the world. The company was split into Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. d is for discounts. Aldi prices can be as much as 50 per cent off the price at mainstream supermarkets, especially when comparing its private label range. E is for Essen. Aldi’s birthplace is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. F is for frugality. Aldi stores are notoriously frugal when it comes to layout and the cost of running them. It’s a frugality that stems from the brothers’ wartime experiences. g is for German frugality. H is for home computers. Aldi sold computers in the 1980s, such as the Commodore 64, which proved incredibly popular, selling out in hours. I is for infants. Aldi’s reputation for cheap and high-quality infant products, from nappies to formula to clothing, is what first hooks many shoppers. J is for Trader Joe’s, the specialty grocery store based in California with almost 500 stores that is owned by the Theo Albrecht branch of the Aldi family. K is for kidnap. In 1971 Theo Albrecht was kidnapped by a lawyer with gambling debts. The ransom was set at seven million deutschmarks. Theo, who was held for 17 days, tried upon his release to claim the ransom payment as a taxdeductible business expense. L Aldiis for is liquor.the biggest wine retailer in Germany. M is for middle aisle, where all the magic happens, with one-off specials and general merchandise, from camping gear, tools and toys to 3D printers and trees, dishwashers and couches. N is for North Sea. Among the many stories and myths about the family is that Karl and Theo owned a remote island in the North Sea where they played golf, collected antique typewriters and grew orchids. O is for outmanoeuvre. Aldi is always seeking to one-up the big players and the independent chains through its low prices and array of general merchandise on sale. P is for Petcare. Aldi is pushing out in all retail directions including pet care products.
Q is for quirky inventory. Think foldable wheelchairs, video night-vision devices and a model human skeleton. R is for retail. Aldi is estimated to have a 10 per cent slice of the retail grocery sector across the east coast, and with its expansion this year into South Australia and Western Australia that penetration into Australia’s $90 billion supermarket sector is tipped to grow. S is for South Australia, whose supermarket sector has traditionally had a strong independent grocery industry, which now faces a big challenge from Aldi. T is for tax. In 2015 Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder suggested Aldi might not be paying its fair share of tax in Australia, hence competing unfairly with Wesfarmers’ own supermarket chain Coles. Aldi released its most recent earnings results showing an average income tax rate paid of more than 30 per cent. U is for UK, one of Aldi’s most successful markets where it has just about 600 stores and is the nation’s sixth-largest supermarket chain by market share. V is for visual. Aldi stores look bargain basement compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Coles and Woolworths on upgrading and refurbishing their stores. It’s part of the appeal: if the store looks cheap the prices must also be cheap. W is for Winter ski gear. Aldi is now the biggest retailer of ski gear in Australia and its winter sale is a huge drawcard for shoppers, some of whom wouldn’t normally be seen dead in an Aldi. They flock to the sales, often trying on clothes in the middle of the store and lunging after gloves, goggles and jackets.
X is for Xmas – a big time for the discounter which offers the full sweep of Christmas food, presents, wrapping and trim to gain sales in this crucial retail time teo of the year. . Y is for Yoda. Despite its heavy focus on private label – around 90 per cent of its products are home brand – Aldi also doesn’t shy away from selling top brands, such as
Star Wars products for the release of The Force Awakens. Z is for zombies. Critics say Aldi shoppers are like cult members who slavishly follow, pump up and promote Aldi to anyone who will listen.