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INTERVIEW


Kate Cracknell talks to the head of recreation for Migros Zurich about the co-operative’s new fitness venture in Germany


RENE KALT


“I


n the modern world, success will come to those who know how to construct a universe of ideas around their business.” So


said Gottlieb Duttweiler, who founded Swiss co-operative Migros in 1925. Migros might since have grown to become Switzerland’s largest retailer, known primarily as a supermarket brand (see information panel below), but this philosophy – its own ‘universe of ideas’ – is still very much in evidence today. Sustainable development – from an economic, social and ecological perspective – lies at the heart of the not-for-profi t business, with Migros priding itself on its high ethical standards and corporate social responsibility. Value for money and quality of products are also key, as is customer service: with over two million members from a total Swiss population of just short of eight million, Migros is essentially owned by its customers and places high importance


on their buy-in. Finally on the list of company values are ‘Swissness’ and regional focus: the business operates as a federation of 10 distinct co-operatives across Switzerland, each of them delivering against a social and charitable agenda in their own region, as well as supporting local producers.


FITNESS LEADER


Migros is not only a supermarket chain, however; among its other divisions, it’s also Switzerland’s leading health and fi tness operator. And here too, the company’s focus on customers and staff is evident. “Our mission is the health of our people,” confi rms René Kalt, head of the recreation division in the Zurich co-operative. “We’re responsible for the health of our customers, and we need to offer fair, proven training to help them reach their goals.” Kalt originally joined Migros in


1995, prior to which he was coach of MIGROS COMPANY OVERVIEW


Migros is Switzerland’s biggest retailer, with a turnover of 24.8bn Swiss francs (around €20.5bn) in 2011. It’s also the biggest private employer in the country, with more than 86,000 employees from over 140 countries. It operates as a federation of 10 regional co-operatives with over two million members; public companies and a series of foundations also form part of the Migros Group. A fi xed percentage of the turnover of the Migros co-operatives is donated


to cultural and social activities – equating to around 70m every year – making Migros the most important private promoter of cultural events across Switzerland.


Besides the traditional retail


fi elds of food and specialised goods, other important branches for the group include general retail, travel and fi nancial services. The majority of consumer goods sold by Migros are produced by Migros industrial concerns in Switzerland.


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the Swiss women’s volleyball team, including overseeing the development of a new national training centre for the Switzerland Volleyball Federation. “Then I got the chance to join Migros and head up a health club: one of the federation’s fi rst in the country, and the fi rst in the Zurich region. It was a premium club in Regensdorf, near Zurich, operating under the Fitnesspark brand. From there we began to expand, building more large, full-service health clubs and extending into golf courses too. We also took over a sports and leisure park that offered tennis, football, golf and so on. “But we reached a point where we


couldn’t expand much more by focusing purely on such large-scale developments. We still wanted to develop the health and fi tness offering though, so we decided to turn to smaller footprint clubs. We acquired a chain called Activ Fitness and put our efforts into speeding up the growth of that business. We now have 19 of these clubs, and together with our Fitnesspark facilities, we cater for 60,000 members – around 6 per cent of the Zurich population. Adding in our other venues, probably around 12 to 14 per cent of the local population currently use our facilities. “We don’t know exactly what the other Migros co-operatives are doing, as we all operate independently using different sub-brands. However, Migros Zurich is easily the biggest co-operative: we generate probably 40 to 50 per cent of the group’s total turnover.”


LAUNCHING ELEMENTS


The fact that the Migros co-operatives all operate independently meant that,


January 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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