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Karl Albrecht, who died on 16 July at the age of 94. Photograph: Aldi Süd/EPA

Aldi supermarkets’ billionaire co-founder Karl Albrecht dies

Karl Albrecht, the co-founder of discount supermarket chain Aldi and Germany’s richest man, has died at 94.

Karl and his brother Theo started Aldi – which has almost 10,000 stores across Europe.

Karl, who was the 35th wealthiest person in the world with an estimated fortune of $21bn (£12.3bn), died last Wednesday but the company delayed releasing news of his death until after the funeral.

Theo, who was worth an estimated $19bn (£11.1bn), died in 2010.

Albrecht was born on February 20th, 1920, in the northwestern city of Essen, where his parents owned a small corner shop.

After learning his trade in the family business, he and Theo, who died in 2010, took over the store in 1946 and by 1948 had quickly expanded it to a network of more than 300 shops in the Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

They then transformed the network into the Albrecht Diskont or Aldi chain in the 1960s, which grew rapidly.

Humble beginnings: The Albrecht brothers started out in their mother's corner shop in Essen, which she opened in 1913

Humble beginnings: The Albrecht brothers started out in their mother’s corner shop in Essen, which she opened in 1913

The brothers made sure the first store was maintained and is an Aldi branded supermarket to this day

The brothers made sure the first store was maintained and is an Aldi branded supermarket to this day

The brothers split Aldi into two separate companies – Aldi Nord (North) and Aldi Süd (South) –with Theo being  responsible for Aldi Nord and Karl in charge of Aldi Süd after an argument over whether to sell cigarettes in the 1960s.

The brothers intensely guarded their privacy and were rarely if ever seen outside their fortress-like homes overlooking the Ruhr valley near Essen. Their reclusive nature increased after Theo was kidnapped and held for ransom for 17 days in 1971. Karl maintained the most intensely low profile, with his last reported public comments dating back to 1953.

The brothers’ strict eye on cost control extended to their graves. They bought their plots in a municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Essen in 1997. The site was left abandoned for many years and became so overgrown with weeds that the cemetery management wrote a letter of complaint, according to German news magazine Der Spiegel.

It did not exactly spur them into action, but eventually Aldi trucks turned up with Mediterranean rhododendrons and cypress trees. The brothers had, apparently, been waiting for the shrubs to go on offer in their stores.

A spokesman for the city of Essen, in the Rhine-Ruhr region, where Albrecht lived, said a funeral was held on Monday for close family only.

Partly adpoted from the Guardian and the Local

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