Lidl (pronounced LEE-duhl) is a German-based grocery store. It operates in much of Europe but also landed in the United States in 2017. Although the initial US run has been bumpy, the company continues to grow, and is seen as a competitor to Aldi and Trader Joe’s on the East Coast. Lidl even uses some of the same techniques Aldi uses, such as a rotating limited inventory, bagging your own groceries, and a double guarantee on products. While Aldi and Lidl are not the same company, they have some things in common.
That may lead some people to wonder: can you buy Lidl stock? And, if so, how?
A Little Background
To answer that question, it’s helpful to know a bit about Lidl. The grocer’s parent company, known today as Schwarz Gruppe, was founded in the 1930s by Josef Schwarz and was focused mostly on the larger food industry, including wholesale foods. That shifted in 1973, when Josef’s company opened the first Lidl store, named after a business partner. (Schwarz means “black” and possible names sounded a lot like “black market.” Hence the decision to use a business partner’s name.)
Schwarz decided to borrow the small-inventory concept that Aldi and some other German grocers were using, including the use of both permanent and rotating inventory items. Josef Schwarz died in 1977, and his son, Dieter, took over, leading the company as it expanded outside of Germany and into Western and Eastern Europe. In large part because of Lidl, Schwarz Gruppe takes in over $115 billion dollars in revenue, and Dieter is currently worth over $20 billion.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy stock in Lidl. Lidl’s parent company, Schwarz Gruppe, is a privately owned family company, completely controlled by Dieter Schwarz and his family. Schwarz Gruppe doesn’t sell stock in its company. In addition, it operates with complete control over Lidl and does not sell any kind of stock in the grocer. Lidl makes plenty of money, but unless you’re connected to the Schwarz family, you’re not going to take in any of those profits.
As for Aldi? Similar story.