Here’s how Aldi’s explosive growth transformed it from a corner store in Germany to one of the biggest supermarket chains in the world

  • Aldi has thousands of stores around the world. It’s known for its no-frills store design and extremely low prices.
  • Aldi started as a family-owned grocery store in Germany in the early 1900s.
  • Now, Aldi has over 1,600 stores in the United States and thousands more globally. It’s on track to become the third-largest grocery chain in the US by store count by 2022.
  • Here’s how it became such a massive chain.

Aldi, the grocery giant known for its super-discounted prices, didn’t always have the massive following it does now.

Aldi – short for Albrecht Discount – was first opened in Essen, Germany, by Anna Albrecht in 1913, before being taken over and expanded by her sons Theo and Karl in 1948. Since then, the chain has grown to include thousands of locations around the world, including more than 1,600 in the United States.

Aldi is spending $1.9 billion to remodel existing stores and another $3.4 billion to build 800 new ones over the next four years, Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported on Wednesday. The company announced this week that it’s rolling out a massive store overhaul that will emphasize fresh, organic, vegetarian, and vegan items in its US stores. By the time it completes the refresh in early 2019, about 20% of Aldi’s grocery items will be new, the company said.

And with the continuing store growth, Aldi is on track to become the third-largest grocer in the US by store count, behind Walmart and Kroger, by 2022.

Aldi is known for its low prices and no-frills store design. One reason its prices are so low is that a majority of the groceries it carries are private-label. It also limits store sizes and hours, enforces a cart-rental system, and focuses on efficiency to lower labor costs.

See how Aldi came to be the grocery giant it is today:


In 1913, a small grocery was opened in Essen, Germany, by Anna Albrecht.

Source: Aldi


In 1948, Albrecht’s sons Karl and Theo took over the business and expanded it to four stores throughout Germany. The stores were called “Albrecht Discount.”


The name “Albrecht Discount” was eventually shortened to Aldi in 1962.


In the mid-1960s, the company was divided in half because of a disagreement over whether it should sell cigarettes. Theo Albrecht controlled the stores in northern Germany, and Karl Albrecht controlled the stores in the south. The two stores were known as Aldi Nord, which does sell cigarettes, and Aldi Sud, which does not.

Source: Washington Post


By 1968, there were over 200 Aldi Sud locations. Aldi Sud is the chain expanding in the US, while Aldi Sud and Aldi Nord are both expanding overseas. The stores are still separate.


The first US Aldi store opened just a few years after, in 1976, in southeastern Iowa.


In 1979, Theo Albrecht purchased the Trader Joe’s chain, expanding the Aldi brand’s influence in the US. Aldi Nord still operates Trader Joe’s in the US.

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Getty

Source: Slate


By 1999, Aldi had locations in Great Britain and Ireland, with locations in Australia, Slovenia, Hungary following in the next decade.


By 2011, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, and Georgia all had Aldi stores.


Part of why the chain is so popular is that its products are relatively inexpensive. One way the chain keeps its prices so low is by selling mainly private-label products, much like its sister company Trader Joe’s.

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Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDER

It also limits store size and hours …

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Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDER

… and has a cart-rental system in place to eliminate time spent retrieving carts.


Currently, Aldi has over 1,600 stores across 35 states — nearly double what the chain had a decade ago. There are also thousands of locations globally.

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Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

By the end of 2022, Aldi plans to have nearly 2,500 stores open in the US. It’s on track to become the third-largest grocery in the US by store count, behind Walmart and Kroger.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson