The reclusive co-founder of the Aldi discount supermarket chain, Karl Albrecht, has died in his hometown of Essen, Germany, aged 94.
Albrect passed away almost a week ago but the company only confirmed his death yesterday, after his funeral took place.
Forbesmagazine ranked Albrecht as the second-richest man in Germany and 24th richest in the world, with a fortune of $25 billion (€18.5 billion).
Alongside his brother Theo, Albrecht transformed his mother’s grocery store, Albrecht Discount, into a global empire with almost 5,000 stores in nine countries. The supermarkets were known for their no-frills interiors and low prices.
However, in 1960 the pair disagreed over whether they should sell cigarettes at the supermarket, and the firm was split into Aldi Nord, controlled by Theo, and Aldi Süd, controlled by Karl.
The brothers were notoriously private, particularly after Theo’s kidnapping in 1971, and lived in highly secure estates in the Ruhr valley.
Aldi Süd said in an email statement that Karl passed the bulk of his wealth and control of the supermarket to a family foundation in 1973.
The supermarket said the founder’s death would not impact the firm moving forward.
Aldi, which employs more than 10,000 staff, does not post financial information but the Handelsblatt Business Daily estimates the supermarket has a turnover in excess of €50 billion per year.
Albrecht is survived by two children and six grandchildren. It is believed none of his family now works in the business.