Migros

2017-03-21T09:50:56+00:00

Migros is the largest supermarket chain in Switzerland closely followed by it’s eternal competitor Coop. Both companies have countless smaller and bigger stores all over the country with articles at reasonable prices.

Eating out is rather expensive. But many locals get their lunch at a Migros or Coop store. Just have a look at a store and get anything from food to pocket knife or fondue!

How did it all start?

In 1925 Gottlieb Duttweiler kicked off his first market in Zurich. He introduced the first discounter store with lower prices but a bigger volume. At first he just sold six articles only such as rice, coffee, sugar etc from the back of a truck in areas with little access to markets. As a broad resistance from competitors arose Duttweiler started creating his own products such as meat, milk and chocolate.

Duttweiler was very successful and by 1941 he handed his business over to the customers by creating cooperatives. By 1950 the founder had formulated his fifteen theses that Migros still adheres to such as:

  • his shops would sell no alcohol, no cigarettes and no pornographic materials.
  • No dividends would get paid but the earnings above 5% would get passed on to the customers by lowering prices.
  • Any living adult in the country can become a member
  • 0.5% of it’s revenue is used for cultural projects
  • the general interest is placed higher than the interest of the cooperative

Nowadays Migros is called the „orange giant“. A capital M is it’s trade mark. Migros owns not only a huge super market chain but also a Migros Bank, it offer evening courses on many different topics (languages, cooking, computing etc), a travel agency, a sports shop chain, electronics chain, garden shops, restaurants, petrol stations etc. It employs over 100’000 people.

Migros is by now a real heavy weight and over the years has pushed out many smaller shops or bought up competitors. Migros owns 70% of Denner who does sell alcohol and cigarettes. Many farmers complain that Migros and Coop dictate the prices. Some critics say that Migros has somewhat lost touch with it’s founders ideals.

Recently smaller competitors were able to push into the Swiss market such as Aldi and Lidl bringing in even more choice. Both companies are from Germany and have successfully challenged the two giants.

Migros 2017-03-21T09:50:56+00:00

WEF – World Economic Forum

2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

The President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping has just arrived in Switzerland. The Swiss government treated him and his wife here in Berne with the highest honours.

Switzerland hopes for even better trade relations with China, which is our most important trading partner in Asia and the third most important partner after the EU and the US. The trade volume in 2015 was CHF 31 billion. An innovative strategic partnership was established during the visit by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Johann Schneider-Amman, in April 2016.

President Xi Jinping is actually attending the annual WEF (world economic forum). The WEF annual meeting is one of the most important economic and socio-political events in the world. It always takes place in Davos, in a mountain resort in the Southeast of Switzerland.

This year it takes place from January 17-20. Among the participants are not only the president of China, but also Theresa May of UK and other world leaders. Over 2’500 participants from more than 100 countries, 1200 economic leaders and quite a few stars meet in the lovely village of Davos. The official motto is „Responsive and Responsible Leadership“. The unofficial motto is rather „Brexit and Trump“.

WEF – World Economic Forum 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

VAT 8%

2016-07-25T09:51:51+00:00

In Switzerland the VAT (Value Added Tax – or MWSt – Mehrwertsteuer) is set at 8% for most articles. Basic foods and medication are only taxed 2.5%.

This is an indirect tax on all services and products purchased within Switzerland. The state gets about a third of its income through the VAT.

Companies offering services or products within Switzerland with less than a CHF 100’000 revenue may be exempt from having to charge their customers the VAT.

The VAT of 8% in Switzerland is quite low in comparison with Germany 19%, France 20%, Italy 22%, Austria 20%, UK 20% and Sweden 25% etc.

Visitors from China who buy expensive watches in Switzerland are probably best advised to pay the VAT in Switzerland because at home the China Sales tax is 17%.

Switzerland is quite an expensive country. Salaries are very high. That is a main reason why services are expensive in comparison with Europe or the rest of the world.

For Swiss residents it is tempting to shop across the borders. Services and goods are a better deal than at home. When crossing the border the Swiss residents can additionally apply for a tax return.

VAT 8% 2016-07-25T09:51:51+00:00

BREXIT

2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

The British Embassy in Bern with the flags of Great Britain and the EU.

On June 24 the official result of the vote was out early in the morning: the UK is going to leave the EU (European Union)! Shockwaves rocked the markets. Fortunes were erased. Nobody had anticipated that this would happen. Everybody thought that by a small margin the UK would opt to stay. It seems that even Boris Johnson, who as a lead figure for leaving the EU, was taken by surprise. He then soon announced that he would not want to be a candidate for the job of the next prime minister.

Great Britain is quite divided over the issue. Greater London was clearly for staying in the EU. Scotland and North Ireland also wanted to stay and might now possibly leave the UK to reapply as new members of the EU. At the moment the consequences of the Brexit no one is really able to fully anticipate and it will take years to sort it all out.

Switzerland is working closely with the EU but is also not a member of the EU. It is feared that some of our important negation points with the EU are now put on the back burner as the EU has more pressing matters to attend to.

In crisis moments many investors opt for the stable Swiss Franc. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is buying heaps of € in order to keep the Swiss Franc from rising and hurting our export industry. Switzerland also hopes that big UK companies will move their seat to Switzerland.

Another unexpected Brexit happened last week when during the Euro Soccer Cup the prestigious English team lost the eighth finals on June 27 to Iceland (1-2), a nation of just a few hundred thousand heads!

BREXIT 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

Burgdorf’s Famous Beer

2016-12-07T19:59:24+00:00

Burgdorf is a small enchanting historic town with a big medieval castle sitting on a rock. It is less than 25km away from Berne. The city is the gate to the beautiful Emmental.

1999 Burgdorf’s now well known beer brewery took up its business. Meanwhile they have been so successful that they moved to a bigger (actually historic) site. At their general assembly on Saturday May 21, over 1600 share holders took part. Everybody attending was treated to free beer and a pair of sausages. This kind of dividend is very tangible.

Their general assembly turned out to be the funniest I have ever attended. Everybody was in a splendid mood and enjoyed drinking all the different kinds of beer while doing GA business. The agenda of the 18th general assembly was whisked through without a glitch with crowds cheering for each item.

The brewery is still just a local company, but the beer of Burgdorf is by now known far beyond the borders of the canton of Berne. The brewery offers informative guided tours. At the end of the tour it’s hard to resist tasting their freshly brewed beer which is an a league of it’s own.

Burgdorf’s Famous Beer 2016-12-07T19:59:24+00:00

Summer Tires and Apprenticeships

2016-05-14T18:11:19+00:00

By now most people have replaced their set of winter tires with their set of summer tires. Summer tires lose their grip below temperatures of 7°C. By law the profile of tires in Europe may not be lower than 1.6mm. Below that they also loose their efficiency and driving becomes increasingly dangerous. The police in Switzerland deal out hefty fines for offenders. Additionally when caught drivers may even have to hand in their driving license for a limited time.

Most people store their set of tires at home. For a fee your car mechanic will store your set of spare tires for you.

The work place of any the car mechanic in this country is amazingly clean and well ordered. These guys are pros and have gone through the standard Swiss apprenticeship scheme of of four years hands on training. During those years the trainees also go to school for about two days a week. During their apprenticeship years they earn a modest salary. At the end of their apprenticeship they get a federal diploma recognizing them as trained professionals in their field.

These Swiss apprenticeship schemes (3 or sometimes 4 years) are the standard for any kind of non academic job be it a carpenter, cook, bank employee, shop assistant, hair dresser, insurance agent, office clerk etc. Most young Swiss rather opt for a non academic career. After graduation they will make between CHF 3’000 to 5’000 a month depending on their field.

When young people going through their apprenticeship training discover, that they would like to pursue academic studies they have several options after their graduation. The can do a specific gap year and then go to a technical school (later graduating as engineers) or after two gap years full time studies and completed exams they can start studying at a university. In  the private sector people who have done their apprenticeship training and then completed higher studies are in high demand. They offer hands on experience along with academic knowledge.

Youth unemployment is hardly a problem for trained pros. The unemployment rate in Switzerland with around 4.5% is the lowest in Europe.

Summer Tires and Apprenticeships 2016-05-14T18:11:19+00:00

Le Lac de Joux – The Watch Valley

2016-04-23T12:09:30+00:00

The lake Joux is on an altitude of 1004m in the northwest of Switzerland. It is one of the bigger lakes (9km long) in the hills of the Jura.

La vallée de Joux (the Joux valley) is in the French speaking part of Switzerland and belongs to the canton of Vaud. During winter often the surface of the lake freezes up and becomes a natural ice skating range. There is a modest skiing area too. In summer this spot is also nice to visit for the beauty of it. Some great fish restaurants are easily located.

In la vallée de Joux you will find four famous watch companies: Audemar-Piquet, Blancpain, Breguet and Jaeger-Lecoultre. Also, if you are interested in watches, check out the small watch making museum in Le Sentier.

The border to France is in close proximity. Over 300 years ago many Huguenots (French protestant Christians) escaped a religious persecution in France by slipping across the border into the Jura of Switzerland where they lived in isolation. There some of them continued to develop the art of watch making. Many of today’s famous watch making companies in this area have roots going back to the Huguenots.

Le Lac de Joux – The Watch Valley 2016-04-23T12:09:30+00:00

At End of Year SMI at 8’818 Points

2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

From a financial perspective 2015 turned out to be a year with a high volatility on the stock market. At the end of the year the SMI reached almost the same position as at the beginning.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) is Switzerland’s most important blue chip index. It is made up of 20 of the largest Swiss equities. Among those are health care titles (Novartis, Roche), consumer goods (Nestlé, Richemont, Swatch), financial titles (UBS, CS, Zurich insurance, Swiss Re), industrial titles (ABB, Holcim), financial titles (Baloise, Swiss Life) and quite a few other big names.

The Swiss economy is doing amazingly well in the middle of a very challenging situation in Europe. The Swiss Franc (CHF) is one oft he world’s most stable currencies and the country one of the richest in the world.

At End of Year SMI at 8’818 Points 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00