Lidl – a German Success Story
by Ralph Kratzer
Some 3 or 4 years ago or maybe even longer, my English neighbour told me proudly: “Have you heard? In Cyprus ‘little’ supermarkets have opened!!!”
I thought, so what? Little supermarkets open everyday everywhere… so what does he want to tell me???
I looked at him very puzzled, so he continued: “you know, the German supermarket chain which is all over UK…”
It took me a while to recognize that he meant “Lidl” instead of “little”! (we Germans pronounce the name more like “leedle”)
Note: This is not advertising at all!! Just a company story…
Lidl is a German global discount supermarket chain, based in Neckarsulm near Stuttgart, that operates over 10,000 stores across Europe. It belongs to the holding company “Schwarz Group”, which also owns the store chains “Handelshof” and the hypermarkets “Kaufland”.
“Lidl” is the chief competitor of the similar German discount chain “Aldi”.
Origins and history:
The company was founded in the 1930s by a member of the Schwarz family, and was called “Schwarz Lebensmittel-Sortimentsgroßhandlung” (Schwarz Assorted Wholesale Foods). The Lidl supermarket chain has, since its opening in 1973, established itself in over 20 countries throughout Europe. The name Lidl is the surname of a former business partner of Josef Schwarz, Ludwig Lidl, a retired schoolteacher, and Josef’s son Dieter Schwarz bought the rights to the name from him for 1,000 German Marks, as he could not use the name “Schwarz Markt” (in German language “Schwarzmarkt” means “black market”). Lidl is part of the Schwarz Group, the fifth-largest retailer in the world with sales of $ 82.4 billion (2011).
In 1930, Josef Schwarz became a partner of a fruit wholesaler and he developed the company into a general food wholesaler. In 1977, under his son Dieter Schwarz, the Schwarz-Group began to focus on discount markets, larger supermarkets, and cash and carry wholesale markets. The first Lidl discount store was opened in 1973, copying the Aldi concept. Schwarz rigorously removed merchandise that did not sell from the shelves, and cut costs by keeping the size of the retail outlets as small as possible. By the year 1977, the Lidl chain comprised 33 discount stores.
Since launching in the UK in 1994, Lidl has grown consistently and today has more than 580 UK stores. While it is still a small player in the UK with a grocery market share of less than 5%, its importance along with that of continental no-frills competitor Aldi is growing.
Amongst other brands, Lidl owns the Silvercrest brand, which manufactures electronic products such as satellite and Freeview receivers.
Like its fellow German supermarket Aldi, Lidl has a no-frills approach of keeping its products in the original delivery cartons, allowing the customers to take the product directly from the carton. When the carton is empty, it is simply replaced with a full one. Staffing is minimal, so that a profit can still be made even though the prices are low. Together with Aldi, Lidl has carved out its own niche with this approach. In contrast to Aldi, there are generally more branded products on offer and while Lidl imports many low-priced gourmet foods from Europe, it also sources many local products from the country where the store is located. Like Aldi, Lidl has special weekly offers, and its stock of non-food items often changes with time. Lidl operates in many European countries. In contrast to Aldi, Lidl advertises extensively in its homeland of Germany and other countries.
In March 2008, the German news magazine “Stern” released a cover story reporting systematic surveillance of Lidl workers, including the most intimate details of their private affairs.
Note! Read the latest news about Lidl Cyprus, entitled “Discounter Lidl in the Line of Fire” by clicking here!