Relief all around at German discounter Aldi Nord, as heirs of founder Theo Albrecht have agreed on a new ownership structure. The company will be reorganised in the coming months and incorporated into a holding company.
The lingering family disputes, disagreements and lawsuits that have threatened to paralyse Aldi Nord for years are coming to an end. The heirs have settled their dispute and agreed on a restructuring of the group’s ownership structure, they report in a brief press release.
Aldi Nord will be incorporated into a single holding company in the form of a Stiftung & Co. KG, which will be owned in equal parts by the family foundation of the Theo Albrecht branch and by the Berthold Albrecht branch. The governance of the holding company will be based on equal rights and parity between the family tribes. The retailer is not giving more details yet: consultations with tax authorities and regulators will follow first.
In search of stability
It seems clear is that Aldi Nord is seeking stability with this new structure. Today’s situation is rather complex, as three family foundations currently hold shares in the company. The Markus foundation owns 61 % of the shares, the Lukas and Jakobus foundations 19.5 % each. The first two are chaired by Theo Albrecht junior, Theo senior’s son; the latter is owned by two daughters of his late brother Berthold Albrecht.
This structure was supposed to prevent Aldi Nord from falling into the hands of outside acquirers, but a power struggle raged within the families over who would really get control of the company. Moreover, the agreement meant that important strategic decisions always had to be taken unanimously. This led to legal disputes that ultimately threatened the continuity of the discounter.
Closer to Aldi Süd
Indeed, like other retailers, Aldi Nord needs decisive management to face the major challenges and fierce competition in the sector. Recently, some cracks appeared in its success story, such as the failure to establish itself in Denmark, followed by the inevitable departure from the country last year.
Family disputes are no novelty at Aldi: the discount chain, founded in %1946 by brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht, split into two separate companies in %1961 after a row over cigarette sales. In recent years, those companies have been looking to move closer together again: they are aligning their IT infrastructure, unifying the private label offer and using the same marketing agency. This even led to rumours of an imminent mega-merger between the two rivals in %2020, but it has not yet come that far.