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History, Size, Store Count

Lidl opened 450 stores in Germany in just 15 years
A Lidl store in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1998. Claus Felix/Picture Alliance via Getty Images
Lidl’s origins date back to the 1930s, when Josef Schwarz joined the tropical fruit wholesaler Lidl & Co and transformed it into a grocery wholesaler.
The business was destroyed in 1944 during the Second World War, but was revived within a decade, according to Manager Magazin.
Josef’s son Dieter Schwarz, born in 1939, joined the company after he finished high school, according to Bloomberg.
But it wasn’t until decades later, in 1973, that the younger Schwarz restructured the company and opened its first discount store in Ludwigshafen-Mundenheim, inspired by Aldi’s success.
Bloomberg reported that he bought the rights to the Lidl name because he couldn’t call the business “Schwarzmarkt,” which translates from German as “black market.” The store sold around 500 product lines.
Dieter Schwarz took over the company as chairman and CEO in 1977 after Josef died.
Lidl’s expansion was rapid. By 1988, it had more than 450 stores in Germany and about 5,700 employees.
The next year, it expanded abroad. France was the home of Lidl’s first international store. Shortly after, it opened stores elsewhere in Europe, including Italy in 1992 and the UK in 1994.
By 2003, Lidl had more than 80,000 employees across Europe.
In 2006, the retailer launched Lidl Asia, a sourcing arm for the company which has more than 1,000 employees across Hong Kong, China, and Bangladesh. Its roles include production, quality assurance and delivery, though Lidl doesn’t have any stores in Asia.
Lidl did not respond to Insider’s request for more detailed information on its history.
Lidl launched its online store in 2009. Its since launched its own app, where customers can redeem coupons to get money off their shop.
Lidl Ireland started offering free menstrual products to those affected by period poverty in May 2021 through the Lidl Plus app. The company said this made it the “first major retailer” to start offering free period products nationwide. Lidl Northern Ireland quickly followed up with a similar initiative.
Lidl is part of the Schwarz Group, alongside sister company Kaufland, a hypermarket chain launched by Schwarz in the 1980s. Kaufland now has more than 1,500 stores across Europe, around half of which are in Germany. Lidl is headquartered in Neckarsulm.



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