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Is Lidl Marketing too Successful?

UK Lidl MD leaves suddenly after overtaking Aldi in the UK with a raft of marketing innovations writes Tim Arnold.

After period of dramatic growth through ‘clever marketing’ and the introduction of many upmarket products, the Guardian this week (9 September) reported that UK Chief Executive Ronny Gottschlich is no longer at the company. Sources say he is likely to face a year of gardening leave.

Lidl marketing - Ronny Gottschlich
Ronny Gottschlich

The Guardian goes on to suggest his relationships with head office ‘cooled’ as he adopted policies different to the parent group. These include focusing on marketing and PR as well as introducing additional workers’ benefits.

Apparently the increased sales volume created logistical and profit pressures. In addition, the German head office wanted to bring the UK back in line with the rest of the business.

Sacked for successful marketing?

This year Lidl overtook Aldi as the fastest-growing grocer in the UK. So a successful marketer, under whose reign, Lidl opened 630 stores in just six years has been replaced. Christian Härtnagel, long serving head of sales and operations for Lidl Austria takes over. While Aldi Austria has a more traditional culture, it is also seen as an executive training ground.

So if the press reports are correct then we have a significant international company eschewing marketing success for conformity. Also placing emphasis on operations and sales rather than marketing.

A sad week for marketing

Surely if Ronny Gottschlich is ‘blamed’ rather than ‘applauded’ then this a sad week for marketing!! Or alternatively, are we only seeing half the story… what do you think? We applaud Ronny and also wish him every success.

Tim is a famous marketer of the 80's and 90's who ran one of the most successful independent UK marketing agencies. he went on to help establish a leading UK search agency and become a sought after interim Marketing Director and consultant. He is co-author of The Marketing Director's Handbook Volumes 1 and 2 with Guy Tomlinson.

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