Karl Albrecht, one of the co-founders of the German discount supermarket chain Aldi and one of the country's richest men, has died aged 94, the company has announced.

"We mourn the death of our company founder, Karl Albrecht," the company said in a statement, adding that he died on 16 July.

Albrecht was born on 20 February 1920, in the northwestern city of Essen, where his parents owned a small food shop.

After learning his trade in the family business, he and his younger brother Theo, who died in 2010, built up a network of more than 300 shops in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The name Aldi was derived from Albrecht Discount.

In the early 1960s the brothers split the business in a dispute over the sale of cigarettes, with Theo taking control of Aldi Nord and Karl running Aldi Süd.

Karl Albrecht’s Aldi is the brand most familiar to Irish shoppers following its launch here in 1998.

Mr Albrecht was a very private person and preferred to remain out of the public eye throughout his life.

According to Forbes magazine he was Germany's richest man, and 24th richest in the world, with an estimated net worth of €19bn.