|Estimated value:||€21.7 billion|
|Country of origin:||Germany|
|Source of Wealth:||entrepreneur|
Dieter Schwarz is considered the richest man in Germany. There is no private person in this country with a larger net worth. The owner of the Schwarz Group, which owns the department store chains Kaufland and Lidl, makes Dieter Schwarz the owner of an empire. Schwarz is married to Franziska Schwarz (née Weipert) and has two adult daughters. Almost nothing is known about his private life.
The history of Lidl & Schwarz KG began with Josef Schwarz, Dieter Schwarz’s father. In the 1930s, he built the company into a food wholesaler and became a leader in the region around Heilbronn and Franconia. The only son of the Schwarz family, Dieter, trained as a businessman after graduating from high school. He completed this in the years 1958 to 1960 in his father’s company Lidl & Schwarz KG. As early as 1962, the young Schwarz Spross became a partner in the company. This was probably mainly due to the fact that the father, Josef Schwarz, was already the sole shareholder of Lidl & Schwarz KG at that time.
The father-son team acted very successfully. The first Handelshof supermarkets opened in 1968. The Handelshof supermarkets were later renamed Kaufland and thus established the Kaufland empire. The company grew rapidly and soon had to move its headquarters to Neckarsulm, where it is still located today.
Dieter Schwarz wanted to focus on discount markets early on. In 1973 he opened his first store. However, he had to find a suitable name first and didn’t want to start his supermarket chain under the off-putting “black market” name. Therefore, he bought the naming rights for “Lidl” from the painter Ludwig Lidl for only 1000 marks. He is likely to be annoyed about this small sum to this day, given the huge net worth of the Schwarz Group.
Since the death of his father in 1977, Dieter Schwarz has been the sole owner of the Schwarz empire. By then, 30 branches had already been opened. Schwarz tried several types of supermarkets until he found the right concept. From now on, Lidl should be a discounter on a rather small area and Kaufland should offer a full range on a correspondingly larger area.
In the 1980s, Dieter Schwarz was already expanding his Lidl discounters abroad. The first store abroad was opened in France. Italy and Great Britain followed. Nowadays, Lidl is represented and known in almost all European countries, and even in the United States.
Big brother Kaufland also developed splendidly. First known under the name Handelshof, the markets were renamed Kaufland in 1984. In the course of reunification, numerous Kaufland branches opened in the new federal states. Kaufland also expanded abroad early on. The first branch was opened in 1998 in the Czech Republic.
In 1999, Dieter Schwarz retired from management. He transferred his shares to the non-profit Dieter Schwarz Foundation gGmbH. With the help of the foundation, Schwarz supports art, culture, research and science.
The Schwarz Group is divided into the companies Schwarz Beteiligungs-GmbH, the Dieter Schwarz Foundation and Schwarz Unternehmenstreuhand KG. The companies have different shares and voting rights.
The biggest step in his career was the sole takeover of Lidl & Schwarz KG after the death of his father in 1977. The extremely successful expansion of the supermarket chains Lidl and Kaufland in Germany and abroad can also be counted among the great successes in Dieter Schwarz’s life . There are Lidl branches throughout Europe that are based on the same principle. According to its own statements, the Schwarz Group operates 10,800 Lidl branches in 32 countries.
“The most social thing I can do is to strengthen the performance of citizens and promote elite education through appropriate educational measures.”
In 2008, the group fell into disrepute because it had its employees monitored with video cameras. This provoked great indignation in the population and among the employees.
Dieter Schwarz is extremely public shy. In times of Facebook and Instagram, the billionaire protects his privacy. There are no official photos of Dieter Schwarz online. He has also always categorically refused interviews. He justified his shyness from the public with the fear of kidnapping and to protect his family. Despite his wealth, Dieter Schwarz can now walk freely and undisturbed with his wife through the city where he lives and take part in public life without being recognized.
Dieter Schwarz received the Medal of Merit from the State of Baden-Württemberg. In 2017 he became an honorary citizen of Heilbronn.
His foundation is heavily involved in the areas of education and research. For example, it enabled the Technical University of Munich to have a professorship with 20 positions as a branch office in Heilbronn.
|Estimated value:||€21.7 billion|