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Dublin: 10°C Monday 25 October 2021
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Secretive billionaire Theo Albrecht dies

The co-founder of Aldi discount stores who was “more reclusive than Yeti” has died in Germany.

The Aldi logo on a store in South Dublin.

THE RECLUSIVE GERMAN billionaire, Theo Albrecht, has died at the age of 88.

Albrecht, one of the world’s richest men, was co-founder of the discount store Aldi. He also bought the successful American grocery store Trader Joe’s.

Theo Albrecht founded the first Aldi store along, with his brother Karl, after taking over their mother’s corner shop following the end of World War II.

They refused to stock anything but staple products, and presented them in cardboard boxes stacked on wooden pallets rather than on shelves. The name “Aldi” stands for “Albrecht Discount.”

Theo Albrecht led an extremely simple lifestyle – he reportedly wrote notes using two inch pencil stubs during business meetings.

Theo and his brother parted ways in the 1960s when they couldn’t agree on whether to sell cigarettes: they divided the company into Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud.

Theo ended up mainly running stores across Europe, while Karl took Australia, the UK and the US – but Theo managed to get a piece of the American market when he bought Trader Joe’s, a California store that sells discount gourmet food.

The men were ranked as two of the richest people in the world by Forbes, with Theo coming in a 31st (with a fortune of €16.07bn) and Karl coming in at 10th (with a fortune of €17.98).

Theo was notoriously private, shunning the media and going to great pains to avoid having his photographs taken. He was kidnapped in 1971 by two men who demanded about €2m.

He died in his home city of Essen and is survived by his wife and two children.

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