Wealthy and Reclusive: Billionaire Aldi Heir Berthold Albrecht Dead at 58

Berthold Albrecht, billionaire heir to the discount Aldi supermarket fortune and one of Germany's wealthiest men, has died. His notoriously reclusive family released the news of his November burial in obituaries published across the country on Friday.

Berthold Albrecht, an heir to the Aldi supermarket empire, died at age 58. Zoom
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Berthold Albrecht, an heir to the Aldi supermarket empire, died at age 58.

In accordance with the family's tradition of secrecy, the publication of the obituary came well after the funeral. Berthold Albrecht, billionaire heir to Germany's Aldi discount supermarket fortune, was laid to rest in November by a close set of family and friends, read the full-page announcement published in several German dailies on Friday.

"Berthold Albrecht was a very loving and extremely generous human being, an exemplary husband and father," it said. "Berthold was a fighter, full of hope until the end." The obituary did not reveal details about the cause or location of Albrecht's death.

The reclusive 58-year-old father of five and his brother Theo Jr. belong to Germany's richest family, and together have a fortune estimated at $17.8 billion, according to Forbes.

He was the son of the late Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht, who along with his brother Karl, created a discount grocery empire in postwar Germany. The brothers' discount concept, which focuses on a limited selection and simple operations to keep costs down, revolutionized the grocery industry. Today, the company operates in 17 countries, including Europe, North America and Australia.

In 1960, Aldi was divided into two sister companies, Aldi Nord (north) and Aldi Süd (south), run by Theo and Karl respectively. Theo died at age 88 in 2010, survived by his 92-year-old brother Karl, who is Germany's richest man with a fortune of $25.4 billion, according to Forbes.

As an executive board member and chair of the family foundation that owns Aldi Nord, which also owns the popular US chain Trader Joe's, Berthold Albrecht had brought a forward-thinking strategy to the company's management, said a statement from the board, shareholders and managers.

Neither Aldi Nord nor Aldi Süd publish company numbers, but according to trade information service Planet Retail, the two companies had a turnover of some €58 billion in 2011, making them the third-largest retailer in Germany.

kla -- with wires

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