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#36 Dieter Schwarz $21.8B

Random fact: Unions detailed worker mistreatment in "Lidl Black Book" in 2005.


Schwarz owns Schwarz Group, Europe's largest food retailer. The Neckarsulm, Germany-based company has more than 10,000 Lidl and Kaufland supermarkets, which had revenue of more than 85 billion euros ($95 billion) its 2016 fiscal year. He controls the business through Dieter Schwarz Stiftung, an LLC with a charitable purpose.

As of July 25, 2017:
Last change -$112M (-0.5%)
YTD change +$950M (+4.5%)
Industry Retail
Biggest asset Lidl
Citizenship Germany
Age 77
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Dieter Schwarz's net worth of $21.8B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Schwarz's fortune derives from his control of Schwarz Group, which operates the Lidl and Kaufland supermarket chains. The company has more than 10,000 stores across at least 20 European countries and reported revenue of 85.7 billion euros ($95.1 billion) in the year to Feb. 29, 2016, according to information provided by Schwarz Group spokesperson Gertrud Bott. It's the biggest food retailer in Europe, according to consultancy Retail-Index.

The valuation of Lidl is based on revenue for the year to Feb. 29, 2016 and the average enterprise value-to-sales and enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiples of four publicly traded peer companies: Tesco, Metro, Casino and DIA. 

The valuation of Kaufland is based on revenue for the year to Feb. 29, 2016 and the average enterprise value-to-sales and enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiples of three peer companies: Metro, Carrefour and Casino.

Schwarz controls his assets through Dieter Schwarz Stiftung, a limited liability company with a charitable purpose, according to information from Bott. Schwarz gave Hermann-Josef Hoffmann power of attorney over the company in 1996 and shares of Lidl and Kaufland were transferred into the entity in 1999, to protect the companies' independence and long-term survival. Germany's definition of public benefit includes charitable causes, the funding of sports teams, universities, cultural heritage and traditions, monuments, select recreational and -- with some restriction -- political activities.

Schwarz's operating company -- of which he is an honorary board member with veto power -- controls 100 percent of the Lidl and Kaufland voting rights and decides how much money goes to the Stiftung, according to the company. Under German law, the Stiftung is tax-exempt as long as a stated public benefit purpose is maintained. Because of this flexibility, the value of Lidl and Kaufland shares is counted as Schwarz's personal fortune.


Birthdate: 9/24/1939
Family: Married, 2 children

Dieter Schwarz was born in Heilbronn, Germany, in 1939, to Josef Schwarz and his wife. Schwarz's father had co-founded the Lidl & Schwarz grocery in 1930, which was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt after the war ended.

Schwarz joined his father's company after finishing high school. He set out to replicate the supermarket discount model created by competitors Aldi Nord and Aldi Sued, which were founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht. He opened the first Lidl discount store in Ludwigshafen, Germany, in 1973. Unable to rename the grocery chain 'Schwarzmarkt' -- which means black market in German -- he purchased the rights to the Lidl name for 1,000 deutsche marks, about $500 at the time.

Following his father's death in 1977, Schwarz took over as Lidl's chairman and CEO. He opened discount chain Kaufland in 1984 and began expanding both chains throughout Europe in the late '80s and '90s. He left his management role in 1999. To secure Lidl and Kaufland's future independence, he put 99.9 percent of the companies' shares in a namesake foundation and 100 percent of the voting rights in a separate operating company. He lives in Heilbronn with his wife, Franziska. The couple has two daughters.

  • 1930 Father Josef Schwarz starts fruit wholesaler Lidl & Co.
  • 1939 Born in Heilbronn, Germany.
  • 1963 Marries Franziska Weipert; the couple has two daughters.
  • 1973 Opens first Lidl discount store in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
  • 1977 Father dies; becomes CEO and chairman of the company.
  • 1984 Kaufland hypermarket chain started in Neckarsulm.
  • 1988 First Lidl store abroad opens in France.
  • 1994 Opens first Lidl store in U.K.
  • 1999 Steps down as CEO and chairman; establishes foundation.
  • 2007 Made honorary citizen of Heilbronn for his philanthropic giving.