March 2, 2024
Are Aldi and Trader Joe’s Owned by the Same Company?

As you’ll find, the connection between these two grocers reveals a history and a family tree that’ll briefly have you looking like that one mathematical equation meme, but is essentially centered on one German family that, separately (the key word here!), owns both Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

Let’s set the scene with the family in question: the Albrecht Family (namely, brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht). Together, they largely ran and expanded Aldi (which is a combination of “Albrecht” + “Diskont” [the German word for “discount”]) in 1946, taking over their mother Anna’s original store and growing it into their own grocery empire. 

Much like you might expect with siblings, the two brothers decided to split their companies in two in 1961 after they allegedly had a dispute over whether they should sell cigarettes (seriously!). Karl, who was against selling cigarettes (he thought it would attract shoplifters) then went on to run Aldi Süd in the southern half of Germany, while Theo (who disagreed) would run Aldi Nord in the northern half of Germany. Both Aldis have been financially and legally separate since 1966.

It’s all a bit Shakespearean (or an episode of Succession), and I’m not even going to get into how Theo was kidnapped and held for ransom in the ‘70s. But wait, there’s more!

While these two Aldi branches are both Aldi in name, only one is the operator of the U.S.-based Aldi locations you know and love (as well as Winn-Dixie), which would be Aldi Süd. We can also thank Karl and Aldi Süd for their Aldi locations in southern Germany, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and China.

As for Aldi Nord (which runs the Aldi locations in countries such as Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain), it most importantly is the company we can thank for Trader Joe’s; Aldi Nord bought the grocer from the original, eponymous Trader Joe himself (Joe Coulombe) in 1979.

Since the two brothers’ passing, the ownership has stayed within the larger Albrecht family, which makes it all a bit more blurry at the edges. But at the end of the day, the companies are run completely separately, with both companies now more under the influence of their respective executives than the family itself.

Like some brothers, Karl and Theo shared a lot in common — most notably their frugality. Fun fact: Theo, for one, always wore cheap, ill-fitting suits, used pencils down all the way to the stub, and preferred plain meals, with lots of potatoes. He even haggled with his kidnappers.

This same frugality is something that was key to their success, and a big reason why both Trader Joe’s and Aldi have consistently low prices to this day. So, we’ll be thanking them both for helping us keep a few more clams in our wallet during our grocery runs. 

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