The sudden resignation of Kaufland boss Patrick Kaudewitz has sparked a leadership reshuffle at the German hypermarket, with reports on Tuesday that the CEO of sister company Lidl has also stepped down unexpectedly.
As a result, the two chains which control over 11,000 stores and make upward of €90 billion in annual sales are currently without long-term leadership.
Last month Kaufland CEO Patrick Kaudewitz departed Kaufland with immediate effect after 26 years in the business, citing personal reasons. Less than three weeks later, Lidl CEO Jesper Hojer resigned after nearly two years leading the discount retailer.
Kaufland, which is already deep into its Australian expansion, was quick to make changes to its top team.
Klaus Gehrig, the CEO of Schwarz Group which owns both Kaufland and Lidl, has provisionally taken over the top position at Kaufland, and has appointed a deputy for the first time, in the form of Gerd Chrzanowski, Stimme.De reported.
“With these measures, we are setting the structural course for the future of our corporate group,” Gehrig wrote in a blog post since taking up the role of acting chief.
“In this way, we remain an active player in our industry, occupy future topics with experienced internal and external experts and executives, and receive important impulses for the successful further development of our corporate group.”
In the weeks leading up to Hojer’s departure from Lidl, he was appointed to the board of Kaufland, alongside Kaufland Head of Administration Frank Schumann, CFO Andreas Strähle, IT Director Christian Müller, chief digital officer at Schwartz Rolf Schumann, head of Schwarz Central Services Thomas Kyriakis, and production director Jörg Aldenkott, who manages the company’s own mineral water, ice cream and chocolate production facilities, Stimme.De reported. Melanie Köhler, who established her career with Lidl and later with the group, was the only woman appointed to the board.
Meanwhile at Lidl, purchasing director Ignazio Paterno has been named as interim chief executive. Hojer’s departure marks the second chief executive resignation for Lidl in as many years. Sven Seidel left the top job in 2017 after less than three years.
It’s unclear whether or not the leadership changes will impact Kaufland’s expansion into Australia, a spokesperson for Kaufland Australia told Inside FMCG on Thursday: “We are committed to our long-term investment in Australia”