Aldi: The Original
Who owns Aldi? Aldi is originally from Germany and was initially founded by the Albrecht family, primarily two brothers: Karl and Theo. The Albrecht Family are still the primary Aldi Owners, but it gets a bit more complicated. The first store owned by the family was opened by their mother in Essen, Germany in 1913. The brothers took over that store in 1945 and by 1950 they owned 13 stores (not yet named Aldi). The brothers focused on discounting their merchandise upfront instead of with rebates that were common at the time. They were also very quick to get rid of any product that was not selling or not profitable. Aldi kept costs low by not advertising and initially did not even sell fresh produce to reduce spoilage and storage costs. They started as a no frills, low-cost store and have stuck to it. Today Aldi is one of the most popular grocery chains in Germany today and has spread throughout Europe and the world.
Aldi: North vs South
Aldi—short for Albrecht-Diskont, which translates into English as “Albrecht Discount” is the name they choose for their expanding discount store empire. The Albrecht brothers owned Aldi but split it into Aldi Nord (North) and Aldi Süd (South) officially in 1966 after they had earlier split the stores in 1960. The split came from a disagreement over whether or not the stores should sell cigarettes. You generally don’t need to wonder whether you are in an Aldi Süd or Aldi Nord because they don’t generally operate in the same regions. In Germany there is an “Aldi Equator” that runs along the Rhine separating Aldi North from Aldi South.
Germany is the only country where both Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd compete under the Aldi brand name, though they stay in separate regions. In the US there may be more direct competition between the two but that’s a little complicated. In all other countries the Aldi stores are owned and operated by only one Aldi group, either Nord or Süd.
Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd don’t seem to be rivals
Who Owns Aldi US?
Any ALDI store you have been to in the United States is owned and operated by Aldi Süd. That means every Aldi Find you have picked up in America is from the Aldi US brand, which is owned by Aldi Süd. So the answer to the question is Aldi Süd (South) owns Aldi US. But who owns Aldi South? Both Aldi North and South are privately held companies. The Albrecht Families still own a large portion of it along with some other investors. Neither Aldi North nor Aldi South are publicly traded companies so you can’t buy Aldi Stock on any stock exchange. The largest Aldi Owner is Albrecht Family Foundations.
Aldi And Trader Joe’s
Aldi Süd already had a foothold in America after opening the first Aldi in Iowa in 1976. So a few years later Theo Albrecht (Owner/CEO of Aldi Nord) purchased Trader Joe’s to build a presence in America. Trader Joe’s had been around since 1967 and Albrecht kept Joe Coulombe (the Joe in Trader Joe’s) on as CEO until 1987.
While many sources say that Aldi owns Trader Joe’s or they are both owned by the same parent company it is not quite that simple. Theo Albrecht, the Aldi Nord brother, purchased Trader Joe’s but allowed it to operate independently. It is currently owned by Theo’s heirs, who also own Aldi Nord.
So that complicates it a bit. Even Wikipedia’s Aldi page claims Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe’s and counts them as Aldi stores. While the Wikipedia page for Trader Joe’s states that it is owned by the family of Theo Albrecht.
Does Aldi Own Trader Joe’s?
I think the simplest way to say it is: No, Aldi does not own Trader Joe’s. However Trader Joe’s and Aldi Nord are owned by the same Family Foundation and operate independently. In the US: Trader Joe’s and Aldi US are completely separate as the family foundation that owns Aldi Süd (and therefore Aldi US) is separate from the one that owns Trader Joe’s and Nord.
It does not seem that either Aldi Nord or Trader Joe’s claims that Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi Nord. Trader Joe’s FAQ Page says pretty much the same as my bolded statement above. Aldi.com, which directs you to either North or South stores depending on location, does not direct you to Trader Joe’s in the US. Finally Aldi Nord’s Website does not mention Trader Joe’s or any store locations in America.