Schwarz Gruppe GmbH, founded by Dieter Schwarz, is a private family-owned German retail group that owns and operates the stores under Lidl and Kaufland banners. It is the largest retailer in Europe, ahead of Carrefour, for revenue. Headquartered in Neckarsulm, Schwarz Gruppe achieved a turnover of nearly 86 billion Euro in 2015. The Schwarz Gruppe is owned by the Dieter Schwarz Foundation GmbH (99.9% of the shares) and the Schwarz Gruppe Industrietreuhand KG (0.1% of the shares); the latter holds 100% of the voting rights. Schwarz Gruppe is holding more than 10,000 outlets worldwide, of which 1,000 are run under Kaufland banner.
For years Lidl was a popular bogeyman among trade unions, suppliers and environmental organizations. With a new attitude and a clever communication campaign they managed to turn their public image into a positive one and thus dropped the bad guy image.
After Aldi´s approach to sell more branded items, Lidl started an advertisement campaign of direct comparison between branded products and their private label in 2016 (see main picture).
Kaufland started to restructure in 2016, mainly through strictly cutting down its assortment (in contrast to Edeka and Rewe) and copying Lidl´s efficient structures.
Whereas Lidl is running an online shop as an expansion of their shelves, Kaufland is participating in the online race with their own food delivery service in urban areas, which they put on hold in December 2018. Profitability is the challenge here as well and at the moment a continuation is unlikely to happen.
Photos © Mark Pfeiffer