Why do people like Leos

Customers like Swiss chocolate


interview

Coopzeitung: The production of goods is now often relocated abroad for cost reasons. Coop is investing CHF 290 million in a production and logistics location in Switzerland. Why?
Leo Ebneter: Because customers like Swiss chocolate. For me it is inconceivable that we don't sell Swiss Easter bunnies under the Coop brand at Easter. At the new location we produce in the finest Swiss quality at competitive prices. Incidentally, this also applies to wine and food, which we are already producing in Pratteln today. I am convinced that it is important and right for us to stay close to our customers with production.

Does that pay off for Coop even with these construction costs?
We are investing CHF 290 million, that's a lot of money. But by combining the chocolate production of Chocolats Halba at the same location as the Coop wine bottling plant Cave and the procurement of raw materials and food production Sunray, we are saving on construction and operating costs are also lower.

Do you want to save 11 million a year? Are you planning to downsize?
No, all employees will receive a new job offer from Coop. These savings result from synergies between the individual areas.

What kind of synergies do you mean exactly? What does that mean?
Of course, bottling wine is not the same as producing chocolate. Although the two products are a great match. You can imagine it as follows: We are building a fully automated high-bay warehouse that can be used for both wine bottles and chocolate packaging, almonds, sugar, etc. This large warehouse can be used by all production companies. That lowers the costs.

Coop logistics boss Leo Ebneter explains why the production location Switzerland has good prospects in the future and why an investment is worthwhile.

All employees receive a new job offer. "

They are closing the Chocolats Halba locations in Hinwil and Wallisellen. What happens to these employees?
As I said, everyone will receive a new job offer. But of course we know that the employees who work in Wallisellen and Hinwil today will not all come to Pratteln. It is not for everyone to simply move from the Zurich Oberland to the Basel area. You have relatives and friends there, the children go to school there, which is not always easy. I regret that, of course, because the employees and of course their know-how are very important. We are therefore looking for a personal interview with all employees 2 years before the company closes and all employees can be offered another job 1 year before the move.

Couldn't you have kept the existing structure?
No, and for several reasons: The current building in Pratteln is in the middle of a zone that will change a lot over the next 20 years. High-rise buildings are being planned, so logistics and production are no longer in demand. In Wallisellen, too, the environment around our location has changed significantly in recent years. A new tram line was built, the quarter could become an attractive residential area that does not fit well with industrial production. Chocolats Halba has also produced at two locations in recent years. Unfortunately, this has disadvantages. And the production sites in Wallisellen and Hinwil border the residential zone. Production emissions and noise are increasingly bothersome. We are convinced that the merging of the two production sites in one place will bring simplifications and improvements.

The Pratteln location is a stroke of luck for us. "

You are now moving to Pratteln on the Rhine. Why did you choose this location in particular?
Anyone who has ever looked for building land in Switzerland knows how difficult it is. We are fortunate to have found 80,000 square meters in the Salina Raurica area, which is optimally connected to ships, trains and the motorway. I claim that you will find it very difficult to find such an area in north-western Switzerland or even in the Swiss Plateau. The location in Pratteln is a godsend for us.

Are there any other productions being merged at Coop?
No, no further mergers of production companies are planned.

You also want to save CO2 with your new investment. How does that work exactly?
Production in modern plants is far less energy-intensive. In addition, the waste heat from the process systems is used for the building infrastructure. Significant CO2 savings will be achieved by shifting chocolate transports today by road, now by rail.

Pratteln location

For the future

Coop prepares its production facilities Chocolats Halba and Sunray (food production) as well as their wine bottling company Cave for the future. The production of Chocolats Halba will be relocated to Pratteln (BL), the locations in Wallisellen and Hinwil will be closed around the end of 2016. In Pratteln, a new production and logistics location will be built on 80,000 square meters.

With this step The 2015+ logistics and bakery strategy adopted by the Coop Group in 2010 will be continued and a further clear commitment to Switzerland as a business location will be made. The three production companies under one roof with logistics not only create synergies, but also further CO2 savings.