|Capital:||€ 21.7 billion|
|Country of origin:||Germany|
|Source of wealth:||Entrepreneurs|
Dieter Schwarz is considered the richest man in Germany. There is no private individual in this country with a large fortune. The owner of the Schwarz Group, which includes the department stores Kaufland and Lidl, make Dieter Schwarz the owner of an empire. Schwarz is married to Franziska Schwarz (née Weipert) and has two grown daughters. Almost nothing is known about his private life.
The history of Lidl & Schwarz KG started with Josef Schwarz, the father of Dieter Schwarz. In the 1930s, the company developed 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 did this in the years 1958 to 1960 in the paternal company Lidl & Schwarz KG. As early as 1962, the young Schwarz Spross became a partner in the company. This was probably possible primarily because 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, thus establishing the Kaufland empire. The company grew quickly 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 first had to find a suitable name and did not want to start his supermarket chain under the daunting name “black market”. Therefore, he bought the name rights for “Lidl” from the painter Ludwig Lidl for only 1000 stores. To this day, he is likely to be annoyed by this small sum, given the huge assets of the Schwarz Group.
Since the father’s death in 1977, Dieter Schwarz has been the sole owner of the Black Empire. By that time, 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 in a rather small area and Kaufland should offer a full range in a correspondingly larger area.
In the 1980s, Dieter Schwarz already expanded his Lidl discounters abroad. The first foreign market was opened in France. Italy and Great Britain followed. Today Lidl is represented and known in almost all European countries, and even in the United States.
Big brother Kaufland also developed splendidly. Initially known as the 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 the Czech Republic in 1998.
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 the Schwarz Unternehmensstreuhand 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 chain Lidl and Kaufland in Germany and abroad can also be counted among the great successes in Dieter Schwarz’s life . All over Europe there are Lidl branches that are built 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 caused great outrage among the population and among employees.
Dieter Schwarz is extremely shy of the public. In times of Facebook and Instagram, the billionaire protects his privacy. There are no official photos of Dieter Schwarz on the net. He has always categorically rejected interviews. He justified his fear of the public with the fear of kidnapping and protecting his family. Despite his wealth, Dieter Schwarz can today walk freely and undisturbed with his wife through the city in which 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 TU Munich to hold a professorship with 20 positions as a branch in Heilbronn.