1 x 45'
16:9 HDTV
Frank Diederichs, Annebeth Jacobson
Germany's big clans
Die Lidl-Story

THE LIDL STORY tells the story of one of the greatest secrets in German retail history. Almost every German knows LIDL and Kaufland - after all, almost 40 million of them shop here. But what is the story behind the retail giant?

Dieter Schwarz, the man behind LIDL and Kaufland, is considered a phantom. There is hardly a publicly known photo of one of Germany's most important entrepreneurs. How is that even possible? Schwarz has the good fortune to cultivate a very loyal environment. And that is no accident: his benefactions to his home town of Heilbronn are famous. He is not only one of the largest employers in the region, but also promotes art, culture and above all education with the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.

The late 60s and early 70s mark the beginning of Schwarz's entrepreneurial rise, which is unparalleled in German retail history. At that time, the market for food in Germany was changing: corner shops were dying out, supermarkets and chain shops were on the rise - and with them the Schwarz family business. With their hypermarket concept, they are conquering more and more cities in West Germany, while the Albrecht brothers from Essen are celebrating great success with their discounters. And Dieter Schwarz recognises the signs of the times: in 1973 he too opens his first discount store in Ludwigshafen. At the end of the 90s, he puts the business in the hands of his long-time comrade-in-arms Klaus Gehrig - but to this day, all central decisions are coordinated with Schwarz.

LIDL has been struggling with various scandals since the mid-2000s. It is about the working conditions of the employees, prevention of works councils, surveillance of employees with cameras and detectives. The brand needs a new start and fundamentally changes its marketing in 2008. The new slogan is still valid today: "LIDL is worthwhile" - especially for one person: Dieter Schwarz.

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