Aldi is to leave its founding store in Essen. One hundred years after the creation of the chain, the Huestrasse site has become too small and is to be closed. However, the move also symbolises a shift in power within the discounter’s management team.
After 100 years, the oldest branch of the retail chain, located in Essen, has become too small for the growing brand. This year, Aldi Nord wants to start building a branch that is twice as large in the immediate vicinity of the building where Aldi founders Karl and Theo Albrecht were born and raised. The new store will have a total surface area of almost 1,300m² and should be completed by the end of next year.
The old 'founding store' will be given a new lease of life in due course, but as of yet, it’s unclear what that will be. "Various options are currently being explored with interested parties," said Aldi to Der Spiegel, including the option for the German discounter to allow the building to be used by third parties. Because of the emotional ties, the property will remain the property of Aldi.
The first store belonging to the Albrecht family was initially a bakery shop, which was opened in 1913 in Essen by the late parents of Karl and Theo. In 1919, they moved their business to an adjacent residential and commercial building. This building, which was built in 1909, was called "Stammhaus" by Aldi himself (photo).
A shift in power
Commercial analyst Matthias Queck sees the planned closure as much more than simply relocating the branch. This step illustrates for him the new freedom enjoyed by today's management "as opposed to the purist concepts of the late founders of Aldi". Over recent years, the management has systematically expanded the product range, setting new focuses.
According to the EHI Retail Institute, all discounters are following a trend towards larger branches. With Aldi Nord, the average retail area has increased by 10% between 2010 and 2018 to 848m². The branches of their sister company, Aldi Süd, are about 5% larger (average 889m²). Lidl has the largest sales area per store, with an average of 898m². EHI Retail Institute has also noted that stores at Norma, Penny and Netto have increased in size.