As the coronavirus crisis overwhelms the food retail sector and devastates its counterparts in foodservice, a unique solution is taking shape in Germany, where grocery chains Aldi Sud and Aldi Nord have signed an agreement with McDonald’s Germany that will refer workers from the burger chain to retailer’s stores “quickly and unbureaucratically,” according to a release from the companies.
The partnership will help Aldi stores manage massive demand for at-home food arising from the pandemic while redeploying a restaurant workforce affected by closings and locations with restricted operations.
Under the agreement, McDonald’s employees are specifically referred to Aldi and used there as required on a temporary basis and can return to the fast food restaurant after the assignment.
McDonald’s operates nearly 1,500 outlets in Germany. Aldi is the one of that country’s largest grocers, doing more than $30 billion of sales between its separate Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud companies in their home country.
“Everyone in Germany is currently asked to do their part to cope with the crisis. With this solution, we can do that and, at the same time, offer a classic win-win situation: Our employees can—if they want—be kept employed. At the same time, Aldi benefits from additional resources. And this ensures for the company in Germany that Aldi can act fully even during the crisis,” Holger Beeck, CEO of McDonald's Germany, said in a statement.
The first McDonald’s employees can be deployed at Aldi at short notice, the companies said.
“We are very pleased that we are receiving support from McDonald’s Germany in such an uncomplicated manner,” said Stefan Kopp, spokesman for the board of directors of Aldi Sud. “In sales and logistics in particular, our employees work tirelessly to cope with the high demand and to secure the food supply.”
Nicolas de Lope, spokesman for the board of Aldi Nord, added: “Special times require special solutions. This form of cooperation has so far been unique for Aldi. We are convinced that we can overcome this crisis with unconventional solutions and strong cohesion.”
In the U.S., similar acts of cooperation are happening on a smaller scale as operations strains on food retail and an accompanying workforce drop in foodservice force radical changes. The Miami, Fla., chain Sedano’s, for example, has absorbed employees from two area restaurant chains. Larger companies such as Walmart say they are working with trade organizations across industries to shore up its workforces in the supply chain and in stores.
The companies did not disclose financial details of the agreement, but the partnership is notable also because it represents new cooperation between the separate entities that operate Aldi stores worldwide. The Nord and Sud companies (named to distinguish the North and South parts of Germany that the founding Albrecht brothers divided in 1960) have separate staffs and directors, and an agreement to operate the brand in separate nations.
Recent reports say those companies are looking closely at additional opportunities to cooperate, including teaming to buy goods.
Many McDonald’s restaurants are currently open throughout Germany, but with limited opening hours and subject to numerous local virus-related regulations that limit the number of guests. As in the U.S., most restaurants are limiting service to drive-thru.