What is the Relationship Between Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd?

Aldi International News Roundup

The Nord logo at left, the Süd logo at right.

A lot of people hold misconceptions about Aldi as a company. This isn’t intended as a criticism: most shoppers have more important things to worry about than the nuances of corporate empires. We go to grocery stores to take care of one of the core basics of human survival, namely food and drink. If the store also happens to have a a chainsaw or an air fryer, that’s a bonus, but at the end of the day it’s about the important things, preferably at affordable prices.

Still, when it comes to Aldi, we’ve heard it all. We’ve had people tell us Aldi is just one company, or that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are practically the same, or that Aldi secretly sells horse meat or lab-grown bacon. We’ve also had people think we’re Aldi. None of those things is true, but you know how rumors go: once they gain traction, it’s hard to stop the avalanche of confusion.

That said, most shoppers in Europe and many in America have a vague sense that Aldi is more than one company. Americans might even understand that Aldi and Trader Joe’s fit into “Aldi” in some way. But how, exactly? Who are these Aldis, and how are they related?

I’ll do my best to break down what we know.

First off…

1. There’s a lot we don’t know.

That might seem like an odd way to start, but it’s important to get it out of the way right off the bat. See, the two Aldi companies are privately owned by the families of their respective founders. They’re not publicly traded like Walmart or Amazon. That means you can’t buy stock in them. It also means they’re not required to make the kind of financial disclosures that a publicly traded company has to. The Aldi companies do volunteer certain information, and there are also instances where information gets out, such as when lawsuits are involved.

For the most part, though, much of the Aldi operation is shrouded in secrecy, operating under what the German-based Deutsche Welle once called a “a complex web of private trusts and holding companies.” This is not at all unusual for a private company, but it is still important to keep in mind as we delve deeper into what we do know.


2. There are two Aldi companies

They’re called Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. Aldi Nord is headquartered in Essen, Germany, while Aldi Süd is located in Mülheim, Germany. According to Google Maps, the two headquarters are located roughly 12 miles (20 kilometers) apart, or less than 25 minutes by car.

It’s hard to miss the fact that the two companies have similar names. That’s because…

3. The two companies have a long and complicated history.

We could write an entire post on this subject — and in fact we have — but here are the basics.

Over a century ago, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, a young German named Anna Albrecht opened a small grocery store in Essen, Germany. She and her husband Karl Sr. had two sons, Theodor and Karl. The two boys were drafted into the German army during World War II and saw combat, and when the war ended they returned home to take over Anna’s business.

Their business prospered, growing into a small chain of stores, but by the 1960s the two brothers found themselves at a stalemate over company logistics. Theo wanted to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products; Karl did not, believing they would attract shoplifters. The two concluded the only option was to part ways. Their grocery company split into two. Karl and Theo both passed away in the 2010s, with each of them leaving their respective companies in the control of their respective direct descendants.

You would think, then, that the result would be two competing companies. It’s not quite that simple, though, because…

4. The two companies also have a long history of close cooperation.

When the brothers divided up their burgeoning grocery empire, they had to decide on new names for their respective enterprises. Rather than go with distinct names, they went with two company names that practically invite association.

They first took the first two letters of their last name, Albrecht, and paired it with the first two letters of the German word diskont, which as you might guess translates into English as discount. That gave each of them the name Aldi. (As it’s not a name, there is no apostrophe.) Next, each brother added a cardinal direction to his respective company’s name: Theo added the German word for north, and Karl added the German word for south.

Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd and were born.

Those names foreshadowed what would be one of the more unusual examples of distinct companies working together that we’ve ever seen. Rather than fight each other over neighborhood dollars, the two Aldis divided up their territories, carefully avoiding one another. Aldi Nord grew into northern Germany, while Aldi Süd added stores in the south.

The two companies continued the trend as they expanded outside Germany. In 1968, Süd purchased the chain Hofer in Austria, while in 1973 Nord opened operations in Belgium. Nord moved into France in 1988, and Süd opened shop in the United Kingdom two years later. In all but one case — more on that in a moment — Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd have refused to expand into a country where the other already has a foothold.

The evidence of cooperation doesn’t end there.

A screenshot of Aldi.com

The public relations arms of the two are known to be on the same page … literally. The two Aldi companies operate a common international website, which in turn links to various Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd regional sites. Those sites are known to reference the other Aldi company, such as this Nord page that references Süd or this Aldi Australia piece discussing Aldi Nord.

A screenshot from an Aldi Nord video.

And with respect to day-to-day operations? You can find evidence of cooperation there, too. In 2017, Nord and Süd announced the release of gift cards that could be used at any Aldi in Germany. In 2018, reports circulated that the two companies were jointly purchasing some goods for their German stores, followed a year later by the adoption of common private brands across those same stores. And in 2023, when inflation concerns plagued much of the world, Nord and Süd jointly lowered prices on oil and cheese, fish and foil, and dairy products.

Aldi Nord and Süd dual branded water bottles at an Aldi Nord in Hamburg, Germany. (Source: YouTube)

These cooperative efforts have fueled years of speculation that Aldi Nord and Süd were set to merge, including rumors of a detailed plan that surfaced in 2018. Those plans have not come to pass, at least not yet, but it’s hard to ignore the many ways in which the two have only grown closer with time.

However, we still have yet to talk about the United States. And that’s important, because…

5. Their relationship in America is different than in other places.

Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s

Not the same.

In 1976, Aldi Süd opened its first stores in the United States. Three years later, Aldi Nord set its sights on a small chain of grocery stores in California owned by Joe Coulombe, purchasing Trader Joe’s.

It’s clear that Nord and Süd interact with each other in different ways in America than they do elsewhere. To the best of our knowledge, there is no cooperation at all between Aldi US and Trader Joe’s. We’ve been told repeatedly by insiders that the two run entirely different purchasing operations for their stores.

On the contrary, the two act as serious competitors. Trader Joe’s and Aldi US routinely operate in common markets, fighting for the same grocery dollars. (In my own metropolitan area, there is one Aldi store and Trader Joe’s store located within walking distance of one another.) Trader Joe’s has not hesitated to spread east into Aldi territory, while Aldi recently expanded into TJ’s home state of California. We don’t see any love there.

We can only speculate as to why the Nord-Süd dynamic appears different in America, but one hint may come from the internal relationship between Aldi Nord and Trader Joe’s. Several years ago, we reached out to Trader Joe’s and asked about its relationship to Nord. A TJ’s representative responded to us with this statement: “Trader Joe’s and Aldi Nord operate independently.” Taken at face value, it suggests that Trader Joe’s operates in a different way than other Aldi Nord stores, perhaps including how it sees Aldi US.

Regardless of the reasons, the Aldi US-Trader Joe’s competition appears to have one notable benefit: namely, helping prevent Nord and Süd running afoul of American antitrust laws, which are designed to regulate companies who try to stifle business competition. Aldi US had to carefully navigate those laws in its 2023 acquisition of Southeastern Group, and it would seem likely that U.S. regulators would take notice if Aldi and Trader Joe’s appeared to be working together in some way.

One final note, just in case all of this isn’t complicated enough already: while you won’t see Trader Joe’s products at Aldi US, you will sometimes see TJ’s branded items surface at Aldi Nord stores back in Germany, like this YouTuber found at an Aldi Nord in Berlin. But Trader Joe’s products do not appear at Aldi Süd stores, either in America or elsewhere.

Closing Thoughts:

When we talk about the Aldi empire, we often find this image is helpful.

Aldi Company Graphic

“Aldi” as we know it is a complicated — and, at times, hard to understand — situation. After all, we’re talking about two companies with a common family history that, despite being legally separate, don’t act the way one might expect competitors to. They cooperate in a number of ways, from avoiding operating in the same areas to participating in joint purchases and discounts, particularly in Germany. Their close association has spurred more than one wave of merger rumors over the years.

However, the relationship between the two Aldis is a different beast in the United States. Aldi Nord’s Trader Joe’s acts as a direct competitor to Aldi US, with no obvious evidence of cooperation. This may be due to Trader Joe’s acting more independently from Aldi Nord, despite the fact that Trader Joe’s-branded products sometimes show up in Aldi Nord stores in Germany.

Ultimately, though, I have to bring it back to my first point: there is a lot we don’t know. Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd aren’t required to disclose very much to the public, and for that reason the two are very careful in what the public sees. That hasn’t stopped observers from trying to guess what the two Aldi companies are doing, or what they might try to do in the future.

You can count us among those observers.

About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at joshuaajohnston.com.


  1. Thank you! I lived in Berlin for 6 1/2 years and loved shopping at Aldi’s. Was so happy to have many in Lee County. I took have wondered about the link of Trader Joe’s. This was very helpful!

  2. I grew up with albrech my dad loved shopping there now I live in canada not far from Massena ny and I can shopp at aldi and I love it
    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *