We are a successful and high-performing discounter operating on the international stage. Our company acts on a simple business principle – focusing on the essentials. The ALDI brand represents a performance promise of “the highest quality – the lowest prices”. The wellbeing of our customers is our objective. Traditional business values have been the platform for our enduring success for more than 100 years: simplicity, responsibility and reliability. We are proud of this achievement.
Corporate Responsibility (CR) has always been embedded in the values and tradition of the ALDI North Group. Our conviction is that a responsible approach is necessary in order to safeguard long-term competitiveness, employer appeal and our performance promise. As far as we are concerned, this means taking responsibility for our products, and for the social and environmental impacts of our business operations along the value chain. As a result, millions of people in Europe are able to do their shopping in our stores with a good conscience. After all, the trust of our customers is our most valuable asset.
We are one of the leading discounters for quality and price – we strive to achieve this position in the area of responsibility as well. With this end in mind, we are committed to our material fields of action: employee appreciation, supply chain responsibility, resource conservation, social commitment and dialogue promotion. We secure our long-term success by meeting the associated challenges. This journey of sustainable development has been clearly defined in our CR Policy. We have clear ideas about a sustainable future for our business operations. Our targets form the benchmark for quantifying our success and we publish them in our CR Programme – because we keep our word.
Retail trade with our own brands represents our core business. They rank among the most familiar brands in retail and they are bestsellers. These brands empower us to make consumption of everyday essentials more sustainable for around 1.2 billion purchases every year. As a European market player, we exert influence on global supply chains through our product range and make use of international standards and our own requirements. A key factor for our long-term success is an approach based on partnership through cooperation with suppliers and manufacturers who share our understanding of quality and responsibility.
At the ALDI North Group, our sustainable development is based on a proven principle: decentralised structures with direct decision-making pathways. The different CR issues in the group of companies are driven forward in continuous dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders. More than 58,000 employees make their indispensable contribution to our joint success every day.
The first sustainability report by the ALDI North Group provides an overview of the status quo and outlines the challenges, advances and perspectives of our sustainable development. We report transparently in accordance with the G4 Guidelines of the globally accredited Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The publication of the report marks a milestone for us and also represents a starting point for ongoing dialogue with our stakeholder groups.
Managing Director Corporate Responsibility
ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG
Our approach is based on traditional business values
ALDI is one of the leading discounters in Europe. We represent clearly defined values and principles and pursue the objective of being permanently successful in our business. As a discounter, we make an important contribution to providing a broad range of consumers with products that meet their daily needs. We act in the interests of our customers and reliably meet our performance promise to supply high-quality products at permanently favourable prices.
More than 58,000 employees work for the ALDI North Group. The ALDI North Group is a reliable partner for suppliers and makes a contribution to wealth creation at 75 locations. Taking responsibility for our corporate actions (Corporate Responsibility – CR) has always been part of our business ethos. We also take responsibility in order to secure our competitiveness over the long term, continue writing our success story and further expand our market position in Europe.
100 years of business tradition
The ALDI brand is an unrivalled hallmark for the success of the discount principle. The foundation stone was laid in 1913. The original small food store in Essen-Schonnebeck has developed into the ALDI North Group, which is represented in a total of nine European countries with more than 70 legally independent regional companies. Our performance promise is the same today as it was in the past: “The highest quality – the lowest prices”.
We focus on the essentials: our customers. Every day, we supply our stores with high-quality food and non-food products for them. Then there are special-buy products which are launched twice a week. The heart of our product range is provided by the ALDI North Group own brands. Selected brand-name products complete the product range. Online services like travel packages, photo services, music and mobile phone are also supplied under the ALDI brand, along with a florist service dispatching flowers. Current awards like the “Brand of the Year 2015” in the category “Food Retailer” and fifth place in the study “European Trusted Brands 2015” in the category “Food retail business” provide evidence for the trust of our customers.
At a glance: ALDI North Group
The ALDI North Group includes stores in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Our office in Hong Kong highlights our focus on establishing CR standards in the supply chain.
Over the past decades, we have consistently expanded our product range in the food and non-food segment to meet the needs of our customers. This exerts an impact on where and how we procure our products. The number of suppliers has increased, supply chains have become more complex, goods from various countries of origin are sold in the stores alongside regional products. Reaching all parts of the value chains therefore becomes a comprehensive task. However, this proactive approach is precisely in tune with the expectations of consumers and other players in the community, such as associations. They believe that companies should be committed throughout the world to ensuring that environmental and social standards are observed in manufacturing and upstream processes. This development gives rise to our aspiration to make our CR engagement even more professional and to establish it as a more strategic objective.
We have created the structural enablers for this. The CR division is anchored within the operating processes of ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG in Germany (referred to as ALDI Buying below) and in the individual ALDI North Group buying companies in Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. This creates the simple and direct decision-making pathways for CR that define our organisational structure at the ALDI North Group.
As early as the 1990s, we already began to establish a sustainable product-range selection. Since 2008, the ALDI North Group has been a member of the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) and a participant in the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). The objective is to make a contribution to improving the working conditions in supply chains. Today, we are incorporating sustainability systematically within the structures and processes of the ALDI North Group so that we are able to address the entire range of issues.
Number of products and proportion of own-brand products1 in the standard product range (in percent)
|Number of products||Proportion of own brands (in %)|
|ALDI North Group||1,297||92.9|
1 Unlike brand-name products, own-brand products are those for which we define strict requirements to exert an impact on the manufacturing process.
2 ALDI Belgium and ALDI Luxembourg are legally independent companies (see “About this Report“).
Value chain of the ALDI North Group
We offer our customers a varied and diverse product range with an average of 1,300 products from 70 product groups. Around 93 percent of the standard product range are own brands which implement our quality standards. Brand-name products with a proven track record complement the product range. Furthermore, promotional campaigns are carried out under the slogan “ALDI aktuell” (ALDI Informs). They involve marketing products from the sectors of textiles and footwear, electronics, household, DIY and home improvement, and gardening.
The consistent ongoing development of our product range now encompasses global supply chains and a dense supplier network as a fixed element in our buying processes. There are many different routes to the processed, packaged product. For example, meat and products containing meat pass through numerous value added stages from cultivation of the feedstock, to rearing and fattening of the animals, to slaughtering and processing. Fish are wild catch or farmed in aquacultures and then processed on the ship or on land respectively, before being packed and transported. Resources like coffee or bananas are cultivated in cooperatives and brought to our shelves through exporters, importers and wholesalers.
As a retail company, we have various ways of exerting an impact on the different processes of the value chain. Our objective is to contribute where we have the opportunity to make a difference. This is primarily in the area of quality, CR, buying, goods logistics, and in workflows in and around the stores. Purchasing policies and other programmes allow us to exert an impact indirectly on upstream processes with sub-suppliers and producers. For example, we can enhance the awareness of our customers for sustainability issues through promotional campaigns and product information.
The mission statement “Simply ALDI” describes our aspiration to continually set standards for food retailing and to further expand the market position of the ALDI North Group. “Simplicity, responsibility and reliability” are the three core values embedded in the mission statement. It provides employees of the ALDI North Group with clear orientation and offers practical support for implementing our values in every-day business. The roll-out of the mission statement was launched with workshops and staff bulletin in autumn 2014.
The CR Policy is also applicable for the entire ALDI North Group and it defines what CR means within the ALDI North Group. It links up with the CR content and core values of the mission statement and gives concrete form to the fields of action where we implement our corporate responsibility. Concrete goals and measures for each field of action are summarised in the CR Programme. The CR Policy was published at the end of 2015. This policy enables us to explicitly complement our performance promise in relation to price and quality with the issue of corporate responsibility.
Our engagement – the five fields of action
Employee appreciation entails being a responsible and reliable employer. We want our employees to take pride in working for the ALDI North Group.
Supply chain responsibility is the responsibility for a more sustainable cultivation of resources and improved social and environmental conditions in the production facilities operated by our suppliers.
Resource conservation encompasses measures for climate and environmental protection in the stores, logistics and at the administrative locations.
Social commitment means using our expertise and experience to provide solutions for challenges in the community beyond our core business. The foundation ALDI Nord Stiftungs-GmbH was established in 2015 for this purpose.
Dialogue promotion involves us in inviting customers, employees and other stakeholder groups to engage proactively in communication. Our objective is to structure our dialogues transparently and openly.
CR Programme: the concrete stages
The CR Programme integrates operational goals and measures with the strategic objectives of the CR Policy. We review target attainment and communicate our progress via different channels including the Sustainability Report. The focus is specifically on reporting about those issues that are currently of particular interest to us and our stakeholder groups. We carried out a nuanced survey before drawing up the report in order to ascertain which issues are currently a top priority – known as the materiality analysis:
Focusing on the essentials
In the summer of 2015, ALDI Buying carried out a comprehensive materiality analysis in order to determine which issues are currently top priorities for the ALDI North Group and its stakeholders. Our aim was to classify past and future CR issues on the basis of their importance from an internal and external perspective. We also sought to define the current issues for reporting. The five steps of the materiality analysis process enabled us to determine a total of 17 material issues.
As a first step, we evaluated the importance of different stakeholder groups for the ALDI North Group. This enabled us to derive the scope of expectations that we need to take into account. We then evaluated a comprehensive database. This included more than 800 enquiries relevant to CR submitted to Corporate Communication from the period between May 2014 and May 2015, information from other companies in the ALDI North Group and analyses from external sources. We also interviewed employees, suppliers and the works council of a regional company in order to ensure that we adequately recorded the expectations of our most important stakeholders. The consolidated results were discussed comprehensively in a workshop with representatives drawn from different departments. The process resulted in the so-called materiality matrix, which illustrates the relevance of each issue for internal and external stakeholders.
Materiality matrix 2015 for the ALDI North Group
Each of the individual issues subject to discussion was assessed internally as relevant. None of the issues was assessed as not relevant from an external perspective. The highest relevance was attributed to issues from the field of action “supply chain responsibility”, followed by the issues “fair employer”, “transparency & dialogue”, “communication”, “waste management” and “energy efficiency”. We strive to achieve more transparency and we have therefore included all the issues in our first Sustainability Report. The issues were weighted in the report to reflect their evaluation in the materiality matrix.
At the beginning of each section, we refer to the materiality issues and the aspects of the reporting standard of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
Reported GRI G4 aspects and their reporting limits
17 GRI aspects were derived from the 17 issues identified as material. These issues are answered with this report and the GRI content index. The following chart shows whether the relevant aspect is primarily material inside or outside the ALDI North Group.
Decentralised organisational structures
The ALDI North Group is represented in nine European countries with companies as independent legal entities. In Germany, the ALDI North Group is established as a group of equal subsidiaries made up of legally independent regional companies, in each case in the legal form of a GmbH & Co. KG (limited partnership with the sole general partner being a limited liability company). This means that the managing directors of the independent regional companies have equal status in casting votes at meetings of the managing directors. ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG is engaged by these regional companies to provide various services. This company is also the licensor of the ALDI brand for the legally independent foreign companies of the ALDI North Group operating in the ALDI North Group countries. This arrangement ensures a uniform brand profile.
The departments under the organisation of ALDI Buying include, among others, Corporate Buying and the Corporate Responsibility (CR) department. The CR department is headed by one of a total of five managing directors of ALDI Buying. In 2015, this department was set up as a dedicated section within ALDI Buying and has since been gradually expanded. Previously, CR had been grouped with Quality Assurance and formed a part of Corporate Buying. In other countries, the Head of Quality Assurance/CR and other employees are generally entrusted with functions relating to CR. The CR managers responsible for this area are in close communication with Corporate Buying and Quality Assurance, and with other departments and working groups. This includes Human Resources (HR), Corporate Communication, Sales and Logistics. A total of 67 employees now deal with the range of topics associated with CR at the ALDI North Group.
The company ALDI CR-Support Asia Ltd. with registered office in Hong Kong was also established during the course of the reporting year. The company will work together with suppliers and will visit the production facilities operated by our suppliers.
The CR Policy, the Social Compliance Programme and a number of purchasing policies create the framework for the CR activities of the ALDI North Group. Country-specific objectives or regional projects in areas such as food donations are organised within this framework.
In addition to the CR department, a wide range of topics relating to sustainability are also dealt with in other departments, specialist departments and in working groups. These entities work on company-related topics, develop strategic initiatives, set up pilot projects and roll out these activities. A recent example is provided by a project for optimising cooling technology.
Key figure: Stores and employees
Total number of stores and number of employees (headcount) by gender and region on the reporting date 31 December
|Number of stores||Number of employees||Number of stores||Number of employees||of which female1|
|ALDI North Group||4,867||54,293||4,829||58,179||39,757|
1 A breakdown by gender is only possible from 2015.
2 ALDI Belgium and ALDI Luxembourg are legally independent companies (see “About this Report“).
The continuous dialogue with our stakeholders provides us with important indications for the strategic alignment of our corporate responsibility. In the past, we used to derive valuable information on structuring our product-range selection or our new store concept from direct contact with our suppliers or from the outcome of our market research. In 2015, we evaluated the strategic importance of our stakeholder groups within the framework of a sustainability analysis process for the first time as we prepared to draw up this report. This analysis took into account the degree of influence exerted by our stakeholder groups on the ALDI North Group – or alternatively how much influence we exert on the stakeholder groups – and the potential for conflict was also assessed.
Exchange of ideas with the most important stakeholder groups
This evaluation indicates that the most important stakeholder groups are customers, employees, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), initiatives and associations, suppliers and business partners, and members of works councils and unions. We also keep our sights on other stakeholders like media, government and local residents.
We communicate regularly with the following stakeholder groups:
- In-house media like ALDI aktuell (ALDI Informs) and our websites are the primary point of contact for customers.
- We use different tools to keep employees of the ALDI North Group informed, for example the newsletter.
- We have discussions with NGOs and other organisations primarily about sector and multistakeholder initiatives. Representatives from the ALDI North Group are actively engaged in this area.
- We are in continuous dialogue with suppliers. One of the topics relates to making the structure of the supply chain more sustainable.
- As we made preparations for the report, we communicated strategically with employees, suppliers and the works council of a regional company. In addition, we evaluated more than 800 enquiries from customers, the media and NGOs.
The issues expressed by these stakeholders were channelled into the materiality analysis and the CR work of the ALDI North Group. One example of a key issue for our stakeholders in the reporting year is the issue of residues in (children’s) clothing and shoes. We are addressing this challenge with a voluntary commitment to support the targets of the Detox campaign.
Joint ventures, networks and charters
The ALDI North Group communicates with players in the community at different levels – on the national and international stage, as a simple member or taking a proactive role. In the CR context, we are involved in the important initiatives listed below.
- Foreign Trade Association (FTA) since 2008
- Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) since 2008
- Common Code for the Coffee Community Association (4C Association) since 2009
- The Supply Initiative since 2014
- Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh since 2013
- Support for the Greenpeace Detox campaign since 2015
- Leather Working Group (LWG) since 2015
- Fur Free Retailer Programme and Fur Free Declaration since 2015
- Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – RSPO) since 2015
- Animal Welfare Initiative (Initiative Tierwohl) since 2015
- Association for Controlled Alternative Forms of Animal Husbandry (Verein für kontrollierte alternative Tierhaltungsformen – KAT) since 2015
- Code of Conduct of the German Association of the Meat Industry (Verband der Fleischwirtschaft – VDF) 2015
- German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (Forum Nachhaltiger Kakao) since 2015
- Alliance for Sustainable Textiles (Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien) since 2015
- Charter for Sustainable Cleaning (A.I.S.E.) since 2010
- German Environmental Management Association (Bundesdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Umweltbewusstes Management – B.A.U.M.) since 2015
- Fair Company
- Comeos (Association of Belgian Trading and Services)
- French Retail Trade Association (Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution – FCD)
- Dutch Central Food Retail Trade Association (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel – CBL)
- German Trade Association (Handelsverband Deutschland – HDE)
Uniform compliance management
Our core values – simplicity, responsibility and reliability – also describe the interpretation of compliance at the ALDI North Group. The following statement is made in our mission statement “Simply ALDI”: “We keep our word.” We perceive ourselves as “real traders”. Business decisions always have to be made on the basis of factual considerations.
We therefore expect our employees and business partners to uphold laws and to conduct compliance in conformity with regulations. The ALDI North Group therefore has a complex set of rules and regulations. The compliance management system is currently being restructured and underpinned with enhanced prevention mechanisms. The Chief Compliance Officer and the Compliance Committee are responsible for the restructuring. The compliance management system is also extended in appropriate form to other countries in the ALDI North Group.
Ban on personal advantage
The employees of the ALDI North Group find clear rules for ethically unimpeachable conduct in our guiding principles. In 2015, the conduct guideline on preventing personal advantage and granting of advantages came into force. This established a ban on giving or accepting benefits. Managers are responsible for compliance with the rules defined in the mission statement and leadership principles. Appropriate checks and balances governing compliance with our conduct guidelines are also part of our compliance management system.
Compliance training sessions and grievance system
Employees in the departments of Corporate Buying, including Quality Assurance, CR and Corporate Communication regularly receive training sessions on topics like antitrust law, unfair competition, protection of company and trade secrets, avoidance of corruption and the requirements of the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI). Training sessions on these issues are also carried out in other countries where the ALDI North Group is operating. Further information on the Supply Chain Initiative is provided online.
Supply Chain Initiative
Since 2014, the ALDI North Group has been participating in the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI).
The objective of the initiative is promotion of fair business practices in the European food supply chain. The Principles of Good Practice define necessary framework conditions such as contractual freedom, free competition, trust and stability.
The Compliance Survey of the SCI in the form of a questionnaire is carried out in the countries where the ALDI North Group is operating every year. This questionnaire asks about the activities of the participants in the areas of employee training courses, communication with business partners and measures for resolving conflicts. During the year under review, there were no grievances in conjunction with the initiative.
New employees receive training courses on the important guidelines applied in the ALDI North Group. Since 2015, employees in the Netherlands have been able to use a grievance system in cases of sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, aggression and violence. All employees were informed about the system. Their attention was also drawn to the possibility of involving an external ombudsman.
Clear rules for suppliers and employees
The General Terms and Conditions of Purchasing define clear rules for the relationship between suppliers and the ALDI North Group. The General Terms and Conditions of Purchasing prohibit business practices restricting competition on the part of suppliers and manufacturers, define generalised compensation for damages and set out requirements for compliance by contractual partners. There is also a Code of Conduct for service providers which defines rules for provision of construction, works and services commissioned by the ALDI North Group. However, as far as we are concerned sanctions are only a means of last resort in the interests of cooperation in a partnership. The focus is on a joint search for solutions.
The ALDI North Group is a price leader. The objective is to always offer high-quality products at low prices. We have high standards for the quality of our products and we often go beyond the statutory requirements for labelling.
Awards conferred on the ALDI North Group and its offers
During the reporting year 2015, the ALDI North Group and its products and service offerings received a number of awards.
- “Brand of the Year 2015” in the categories “Food Retailer” and “Mobile Phone and Communication” (award from the international market research company YouGov together with business newspaper Handelsblatt)
- 3rd place in the “Public Value Atlas Germany 2015” from the Centre for Leadership and Values in Society at the University of St. Gallen, in the retail category
- Germany Test Seal “Prize Winner 2015“ in Gold for the ALDI brand from business magazine Focus Money Germany
- 5th place in “Most Trusted Brands 2015” in the category “food retail business”
Field of Action Supply Chain Responsibility
|Objective||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|All production facilities located in BSCI risk countries, which manufacture non-food own-brand products for the ALDI North Group, have a valid and adequate social audit (Business Social Compliance Initiative – BSCI)||2019||100 %||ALDI North Group|
|Integration of selected production facilities for non-food own-brand products into the qualification programme ALDI Factory Advancement (AFA) Project for improving the working conditions by means of dialogue promotion between workers and managers in Bangladesh||Ongoing||Continuation and expansion||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Establishment and management of a dedicated inspection process in Asia||2017||Completion of the testing process and implementation of the inspections||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Provision of verification for a social evaluation (GRASP or comparable) of all producers (growers) of fruit and vegetables||2018||100 %||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Ban on specific groups of substances in the manufacture of own-brand products in the product groups of clothing, home textiles and footwear (ALDI Detox Commitment)||2020||100 %||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Preparation and publication of an International Cotton Purchasing Policy||2017||Purchasing policy||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Preparation and publication of an International Coffee Purchasing Policy||2016||Purchasing policy||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Preparation and publication of an International Wood, Board, Paper Purchasing Policy||2017||Purchasing policy||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Conversion to 100 percent physically RSPO-certified palm oil for own-brand food products containing palm oil (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – RSPO)||2018||100 %||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
|Expansion of the ALDI Transparency Code (ATC) to include own-brand products in the standard and special-buy product range in two additional product groups, including fish and products containing fish, alongside meat products||2016||Two additional product groups||Germany|
|Conversion to certified resources (UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade) for own-brand products with a substantial proportion of cocoa in the standard and special-buy product range within the defined scope of application1||2017||100 %||ALDI NORTH GROUP|
1The scope of application comprises all own-brand products containing cocoa in the product ranges confectionery (sweet bakery products, pralines, chocolate, seasonal products), cereals and ice cream, and other own-brand products with significant cocoa content (for example spreads, chocolate coatings). Special-buy products with cocoa content are also being converted completely to sustainably certified quality standards.
Field of Action Resource Conservation
|Objective||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|Introduction of LED lighting in all new stores (interior and outdoor lighting), and review of conversion of existing stores in the portfolio and distribution centres to LED lighting||2019 (and ongoing)||100 %||ALDI North Group|
|Increasing the proportion of stores which are equipped with photovoltaic systems||Ongoing||Continuation and expansion||ALDI North Group|
|Development of a concept for recording, analysing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions||2017||Concept||ALDI North Group|
|Development of a concept for introduction of an energy monitoring and management system||2017||Concept||ALDI North Group|
|Increasing the own-use rate for the energy generated in-house by photovoltaic systems at stores by combination with concepts for integrated cooling and heating plants, and demand-led alignment of the photovoltaic systems||Ongoing||Continuation and expansion||Germany|
|Review of alternative drive concepts for use in logistics processes||2017||Review||Germany|
|Introduction of a nationwide, digitised monitoring system for cooling systems, in order to achieve emission reductions by optimised leakage rates and/or more environmentally benign refrigerant||Ongoing||100 %||Germany|
|Gradual conversion of all plug-in chillers and freezers to the refrigerant propane (R290) with very low Global Warming Potential (GWP)||Ongoing||100 %||Germany|
|Review of the introduction of alternative, more sustainable carrier-bag concepts||2016||Review||Germany|
Field of Action Social Commitment & Field of Action Dialogue Promotion
|Objective||Target date||Target value||Target relevance|
|Development of pilot projects for sustainable consumption||2018||Project||Germany|
|Introduction of a guideline for dealing with food that is no longer saleable in the stores||2017||Preparation and introduction||ALDI North Group|
|Expansion of the dialogue with major stakeholder groups||Ongoing||Participation in sector initiatives||ALDI North Group|