Coop Schweiz and Coop Bank AG


Migros and Coop are the two supermarket heavyweights in Switzerland and it kind of reminds me of the Coke versus Pepsi battle. You see a Coop on one street corner and sure enough Migros will have a store less than a block away. Migros will run an ad in the paper announcing a sale on peaches, toilet paper or whatever and sure enough Coop will uncannily run the same specials. Coop has been getting quite a bit of my business because they sell a tasty roasted chicken for about six bucks. I've already visited the head office of Migros in Zurich and received a warm welcome.
Coop Schweiz has its hands in a slew of other businesses besides food stores. For instance, they own a good-sized full service bank (Coop Bank), sell insurance, run gas stations and operate several chains of consumer electronic stores. We aren't talking about a rinky-dink company here. Its Bell Group subsidiary, which produces and markets fresh meat, sausage meats and delicatessen products, has over 3,000 employees alone.

Headquarters is a 13-story, orange-colored building that looks to have been built in the 1970's. The orange color of the building is significant because that's the color used on all their store signs. Catching a tram or a train ride isn't difficult here with tracks for both directly across the street (the main rail station is less than a mile away). I'm telling you this because when you see the accompanying photo, you'll know what's with all those overhead wires.

The lobby is very tiny and there's only one small couch and chair. I make note of the fake silk flower arrangement on the reception desk and spot one real plant and one fake plant. Calls are made by the receptionist to CEO Gerhard Metz's secretary to find out who's my contact person. I'm also visiting Coop Bank (headquartered in the downtown area) and sent a similar letter there to Gerhard Metz, who's also president of the bank. Metz's secretary says they hadn't received my letter at either place. That's odd. How can they lose not one, but two letters? I get the receptionist to call up corporate communications but no seems to care about helping.

The next morning I ride over to Coop Bank's 8-story, late 1960's-looking head office building. It's located on the corner of a bustling intersection where all the trams intersect. I walk into the reception area where two women are sitting behind a glass partition. Before I can finish asking them to call up Mr. Metz's secretary, the one receptionist abruptly states, "Mr. Metz says we're not interested". Riding off on my bike I suddenly remember Migros makes roasted chickens and they're really not so bad.