A German-owned discount food store. If you are lucky enough to have one in your area of the USA, and you are on a budget, Aldi is your friend. They are low-service--long lines, self-packing, etc., but the low prices are worth it. As a rule, the off-brands they carry are of high quality, and the name brand specials are usually a good buy too. Their ad flyers carry their monthly specials, usually random items such as interactive Pikachu or power drills or something, very cheap. Highly recommended for college students; their selection isn't big but they've got almost everything you need. Don't buy milk there in the summer, though, and always check your eggs and produce.

The Aldi Group is based in Essen, Germany. Karl and Theodor (or "Theo") Albrecht opened the first Aldi store together in 1960.

Aldi = Albrecht Discount

In 1961 (just one year after the company formed), Aldi split into Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord. Theo ran Aldi Nord, Karl took Aldi Süd. This North/South divide initially just involved dividing Germany pretty much equally in half. Gradually, Aldi Nord grew across much of northern Europe.

Great Britain and Ireland both went to Aldi Süd, which has also opened stores in the USA (in 1976) and Australia (in 2001). Today the two companies are run totally independently. They no longer even share stock.

ALDI Nord Total = 3630 stores


ALDI Süd

Total = 2417 stores

(Number of stores in each country (in 2001) according to manager-magazin.de [1])


Aldi concepts

Aldi is a discount retailer. The "ALDI promise", a phrase you'll see on their corporate websites as a kind of mission statement, is
Top quality at incredibly low prices - guaranteed.
To be able to offer the cheapest possible goods they rely on simplicity and efficiency. Here are some of the common features of an Aldi store.
  • Limited assortment.
    Aldi stocks a very limited range of product lines. Aldi Nord stores stock around 700 different products, while Aldi Süd stores sell more like 600. Compares this to Tesco, which stocks around 50,000 different product lines [2].

  • "There’s no such thing as a free carrier bag"
    Rather than include the cost of carrier bags in the goods sold, Aldi gives you the option to buy them if you need them. This is actually a sound concept. For one thing it encourages re-use.

  • Don't try the phone book
    Aldi stores do not have listed telephone numbers. All inquiries and complaints must be made in person to the duty manager in-store. This, of course, saves having to employ anyone to answer the telephone. Nor do they employ bag-packers.

  • Deposits for shopping carts
    Shopping carts are securely locked. They are freed by a deposit, which is later refunded when the cart is returned. (The American Aldi site incorrectly calls this a 'rental' system. I understand that deposits for shopping carts is currently very rare in the USA, though it is common (even in non-discount stores) across Europe). A system of refunded deposits on trolleys does reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment, and the store spends no money on employing herders.

  • Few shelves.
    Goods are stacked on the floor instead. Stock is wheeled in, still on its shipping pallets, and sold in opened cartons. This saves the laborious process of shelf-stacking. Also, most of the stock is already in-store.

  • Not open 24/7
    Most stores are closed Sundays, and are open roughly between 9am and 7pm other days.
The two brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht, have made a lot of money by selling things for very little money. They are said to be the richest men in Europe. Forbes, in 2001, put their combined worth at $27 billion[3]. This fame has caused them problems though. In 1971, Theo Albrecht was kidnapped. His family successfully arranged his release for a ransom of $2,100,000 [4]


General info:
ALDI - http://www.aldi.com/ (the international corporate website)
Shopping Centers Today - http://www.icsc.org/srch/sct/current/sct0800/11.html (good background. Detail on competitors)
Professional Assignments Group http://www.pag.com.au/articles/aldi.htm (great detail about most aspects of the store)

References:
[1] - manager-magazin.de - http://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/artikel/0,2828,bild-146046-167944,00.html
[2] - Frontier Economics - http://www.frontier-economics.com/news%20and%20publications/frontier%20publications/competition%20bulletins/competition%20bulletin%20november%202000.pdf
[3] - Forbes - http://www.forbes.com/2001/06/21/billionairesindex_print.html
[4] - Encyclopædia Britannica (Intermediate) - http://search.ebi.eb.com/ebi/article/0,6101,34988,00.html

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