Dieter Schwarz, owner of the supermarket group Lidl, has amassed a 16 billion-euro estate from a tropical fruit store. It’s like Amancio Ortega and his Inditex empire. Or as Fernando Roig, owner of Mercadona. Rich, very rich. So much as discreet. Without the slightest desire for protagonism, enemy of the saraos and a life focused on work, constant innovation and the search for masterful formulas that lead to success. Dieter Schwarz, 74, is the biggest fortune in Germany, the country of multinationals like Mercedes or Siemens. An entrepreneur who has forged a personal wealth of 16,000 million euros with a very simple recipe: to offer very affordable prices, thanks to a reduction of maximum costs, to achieve high sales volumes. One of his advertising slogans in Spain sums up this philosophy: “quality is not expensive”.
Schwarz is the owner of the Lidl supermarket chain, a business characterized by fleeing the big brands, those advertised on television, and offering its customers products labeled with almost unknown names for the general public at competitive prices. Its empire has 10,000 stores spread across 26 countries around the world, with 170,000 employees and 7 million customers each day. A giant.
The richest man in Germany
Schwarz, whose group is in the midst of expansion, has become the richest man in Germany not because his heritage has taken a spectacular leap suddenly, but by pure biology: the person who preceded him in the ranking has just passed away . This is Karl Albrecht, 94, who owns his main competitor: the Aldi group, another low cost specialist for food. It had a fortune valued at 17.2 billion euros.
Like Albrecht, Schwarz started from below. Son of the merchant Josef Schwarz, at the age of 21 he began to work with his father as a salesman and created with him a store of tropical fruits called Lidl & Schwarz. There he would begin his meteoric career in the world of groceries.
In 1974 his father opened the first supermarket Lidl. Ten years later, after his death, Schwarz became the owner of the company. He did not want to put the name of his surname, which means “black”, so he paid 1,000 marks to retired teacher Ludwig Lidl to obtain the rights to his surname. In addition, it opened a new chain of hypermarkets called Kaufland. From this moment, Schwarz decides that its businesses will follow the line of its maximum competitor, Aldi chain of the Albrecht: products at low prices by reducing to the maximum their costs of all type. Everybody. The logistics, staff, decoration … The establishments do not make the slightest concession to luxury, a good part of the articles are located on the ground on pallets, there are hardly shelves, only credit cards are accepted from certain quantities, they charge ( Were among the pioneers in Spain) for the plastic bags … Everything to scratch the last penny to the prices … and to fatten to the maximum the benefits.