Who Owns Trader Joes

It was shortly after the financial crisis broke out. A small supermarket on Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn had to close, like many stores during that time. The shop was empty for a few months, then someone wrote on the roller shutter in chalk: "Trader Joe's please!"

The saying was a declaration of love. The stranger wanted a branch of the retailer Trader Joe's for his neighborhood. Trader Joe's is nowhere near the largest retail chain in the United States - there are only 344 stores in all, half of them in California - but it's definitely the coolest. Trader Joe's stands for quality, reasonable prices, style and a clear conscience, especially among progressive Americans. After all, a large number of the products are eco-printed. Trader Joe's is also one of the most secretive companies in the US. Journalists learn practically nothing at the company's headquarters in Monrovia, California.

Even the most harmless questions ("How did sales of organic products develop in 2009?") Are brushed aside. The magazine Fortune now dedicated a cover story to Trader Joe's, which distinguished itself by the fact that the reporters could not speak to a single representative of the company.

This is very reminiscent of Aldi in Germany. And that's no wonder, because Trader Joe's is owned by Aldi. More precisely: It belongs to the family of the late owner of Aldi Nord, Theo Albrecht. But almost nobody knows, which is why the extremely different brand images of Aldi and Trader Joe's cannot come into conflict. Aldi Süd is represented in the USA as "Aldi".

Trader Joe's was founded in 1967 by Joe Coulombe, an 80-year-old entrepreneur from California. After graduating, he did market research for a supermarket chain; Coulombe used the knowledge gained when setting up his own company. He focused on the growing market of discerning Americans with higher education - so he paid his employees better than the competition. And as early as the 1970s he tried to convince customers of their environmental awareness and offered organic products. 1979 Coulombe sold his company to Theo Albrecht.

Now, even in the USA, you can't simply succeed by paying employees better and riding the organic wave. One of the keys to success, Fortune found, is the fact that Trader Joe's only sells a relatively small range of goods. Because the company sells very large quantities of the smaller range, its buyers have considerable market power with the producers - just like their colleagues from Aldi in Germany.

In addition, there is clever brand management: the salespeople wear Hawaiian shirts, the own brands have cult status, even if they are made by exactly those food companies that Trader Joe's customers actually despise. After all, the company manages to offer good wine at reasonable prices - unusual for the USA.

Incidentally, the request of the stranger from Brooklyn remained unheard - a branch of Bank of America moved into the abandoned supermarket on Seventh Avenue. Trader Joe's is extremely careful when it comes to opening new stores. This is also part of the chain's recipe for success.