November 10, 2016

Aldi loosens up

Sergeant major (photo: Dario Lo Presti_Shutterstock)
Get soft, now!
There has been a sudden disappearance of ties within the ranks of German discount retailer Aldi.

"Our company is open to the world," says one manager by way of explanation. After all, when a retailer constantly modernises its stores and operations, why not trendy-up the appearance of your staff?

This will surely also make one seem more attractive as a potential employer to a rapidly declining number of young job seekers.

The move, however, is far more revolutionary than it sounds because perfect ties have always been part of the uniform for men at Aldi. "They even used to keep them on in Australia when it was 40 degrees Celsius," says one astonished supplier.

At least Aldi hasn't become quite so chummy yet as arch-rival Lidl and Kaufland whose staff were recently "asked" to doff ties and to address each other familiarly with "Du", the informal version of "you" in German.

Evil journalists have heard that this has already caused confusion in the ranks. Now that the use of surnames is frowned upon, emails along the lines of "Thomas will now take over the responsibilities of Hans" inevitably lead to further questions within such vast organisations: What Thomas is meant? Which Hans?

Aldi burns its ties (caricature: Oliver Sebel)
These starting problems make one wonder where this all will end? Will senior staff soon be required to colour and glue their hair in punk style, tattoo their arms, or pierce noses, lips and navels?

One also wonders what the deceased Albrecht brothers, who founded the company, would make of it all? One thing they would recognise, though, is the continuity of the corporate ethos.

As Aldi managers are still proud to stress: "Everything we do, we do 100 per cent right and not more or less right." Plus ça change...?

Read in German: "Aldi macht sich locker" by Hans-Jürgen Schulz on page 6 of Lebensmittel Zeitung, no. 45, 11.11.2016

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