Bon appetit Group
Bon appetit, with
revenues of $2.1 billion and over 5,000 employees, gets to call
itself Switzerland's largest listed food company. I get to call
it disappointing. The address I had for the head office was in
Moosseedorf, a town 10 miles north of Bern. It turns out to be
offices above one of their wholesale cash & carry stores
AND it's only the registered office and not where top executives
hang their hats-that's near Zurich.
So, that's why I'm here in an industrial park area in Volketswil,
a community about 10 miles southeast of Zurich. Bon appetit operates
several supermarket chains, cash & carry stores and delivers
food supplies to over 4,200 customers (kiosks, gas stations,
and restaurants). It also has a joint venture and is the licensee
for Starbucks in Switzerland.
Corporate offices are comprised of two similar brownish-colored
five-story buildings built in 1982. I show up right before lunchtime
and hurry into the lobby because come noon, the Swiss lock-up
and are out the door. The receptionist speaks little English
as I ask her to call up CEO Edwin Scherrer.
After a few minutes wait in the tiny no-frills lobby Heinz Brun
appears. I explain what I do and how several months earlier I
showed up at their Moosseedorf offices. He agrees to answer my
questions but it doesn't go well since Brun shows little interest
and gives the impression he doesn't understand the questions.
Around 300 employees work in the two buildings. Parking is plentiful,
smoking is allowed in designated areas, the company's art collection
is limited to Swiss artists, it's a few blocks to the nearest
freeway and 20-minutes to Zurich Airport. Though a food company,
Bon appetit doesn't have its own cafeteria there's an arrangement
with a company next door to use theirs. Any employee perks? Discounts
on purchases at Bon appetit retailers. My request to see CEO
Scherrer's top floor corner office is declined because "he
has a meeting". It isn't possible to see the boardroom since
they don't have one. So, counting the five minute wait for Brun
plus the four minutes it took to whisk through the questions
I was in and out of there in 10 minutes. Heck, not even enough
time to finish drinking a Starbuck's coffee.
The title on Heinz Brun's business card reads, "Leiter Gruppenkoordination"
and I didn't understand when he described what he did. Later
while thumbing through an English edition of the annual report
I come across a flow chart showing management hierarchy. Brun's
name and title (Group Coordination) is listed just below CEO
Edwin Scherrer's-meaning he's the number two or three guy in