Photo: Marjan Blan, Unsplash

An era is coming to an end at Europe’s largest food retailer: Klaus Gehrig, CEO of the Schwarz Group, which owns the Lidl and Kaufland brands, has unexpectedly resigned from his post. According to the Schwarz Group, the manager made the decision to step down voluntarily as he was unable to reach an agreement with the 81-year-old owner Dieter Schwarz on a matter that was very important to him.

73-year-old Klaus Gehrig is largely unknown to the wider public. As the owner’s right-hand man, he reportedly played a key role in the company’s development with its subsidiaries Lidl and Kaufland over the last four decades, transforming it from a small retailer with around 30 shops into a global player with more than 12,500 stores in 33 countries and a turnover of more than 113 billion euros. Gehrig made Lidl not only into the chief competitor to the original discounter Aldi, but also Europe’s largest food retailer. Gehrig will hand over the reins to his current deputy, the 49-year-old Lidl CEO Gerd Chrzanowski. The plans for his successor had already been announced last year, without indicating when the change of leadership would take place. Owner Dieter Schwarz will take on Gehrig’s position himself until Chrzanowski can assume his new role.

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