Swiss retail icon Migros asked us to re-think their strategy.
What have you done in Switzerland?
Worked there regularly over the decades. In supermarkets, brand manufacturers, car dealers, postal services as well as post banking. Right now one of our most important countries, with a project to turn one of the major Swiss retailers around.
Do you speak the languages?
Two out of three. Our German instrument, our retail friends is adequate. We can get around in stores with Italian, but need help there. Luckily German and French are the most prominent languages.
How far along the trend of retail-development is Switzerland?
They’ve been an example for international retail for decades. Migros was the international benchmark for supermarkets and hypermarkets. They pioneered own brand products and innovative assortment architecture. They, along with Coop call the FMCG-shots in this rich European country. Their hypermarkets with the attached shopping malls ruled the market. Until recently. Although locked inside the EU, Switzerland has still some pretty big import barriers, thereby isolating this country from many EU-retail influences.
What’s the special challenge for international retailers in Switzerland?
Switzerland was pretty much closed shop on its major retail markets until recently. Corp and Migros ran the show. That spell has been broken by discounters Aldi and Lidl who entered the market around 2007. Their new, out-of-town, locations are disturbing the normal establishment of retail concentrations.
What company would you still like to work for again in this country?
Migros and Coop, without any doubt. Although we did some great things for the former, and haven’t worked for the latter yet, we feel that there is still a lot of progress to be made for both.