Aldi shop sign with opening hours against blue sky, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, England, UK. (Photo by: Geography Photos/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Aldi Has Its Own 'Equator' Because Of A 1960s Controversy
By Aimee Lamoureux
When German brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht took over their mother’s corner store in 1946, little did they know that they would grow the single location into a global grocery chain. Today, Aldi operates all around the world, but the story behind the grocery chain isn’t necessarily a happy one, and a 1961 disagreement between the brothers has lasting impacts today.
With an eye toward thrift and efficiency, Theo and Karl Albrecht transformed the original Albrecht Diskont store into the successful grocery chain, Aldi. However, the business ran into trouble in 1961 when the brothers disagreed on whether to start selling cigarettes in their stores; unable to compromise, the brothers created an “Aldi Equator” to evenly split their business.
The “Aldi Equator” division created Aldi Nord run by Theo and Aldi Süd run by Karl. Today the companies remain separate legal entities with separate headquarters, and although they share information and suppliers, they do not share profits. They remain fiercely competitive, each with a global presence and monopolies on the Aldi name in certain countries.