Karl Albrecht, Aldi co-founder and Germany's richest man, dies at 94

Aldi supermarket chain co-founder Karl Albrecht passed away July 16 at the age of 94, Aldi said in a statement.

Aldi, the discount supermarket chain that has dominated discount retail in Europe and generated a significant presence in the U.S., was privately co-founded in 1946 by Karl Albrecht and his brother Theo after World War II when they took over their mother's small suburban store in Essen, Germany. Seventy years later Albrecht was ranked by Forbes as Germany's richest person, reported The Chicago Tribune. His fortune amounted to nearly $26 billion.

A spokesperson in Essen, Albrecht's town of residence, said a small funeral for close family members was held Monday.

Albrecht stepped down from his hands-on role as the company head in 1994 and left the advisory board in 2002. The dominance of Aldi and rival Lidl has made it difficult for international firms such as Walmart (NYSE:WMT) to foster a presence in Europe's supermarket arena.

The Albrecht family did not issue a statement about Albrecht's death and has maintained staunch privacy since 1971, when Theo Albrecht was kidnapped for 17 days and released only after a ransom of approximately $3 million was paid.

Aldi Sued, the original parent store's company offshoot owned by Albrecht, has stores in southern Germany, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and eastern Europe. The Aldi Sued brand encompasses more than 4,860 stores and its 2013 revenue was about $51 billion, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. Story