Denner, revenues $869 million, operates a discount supermarket
chain throughout Switzerland. These no-frills stores usually
carry less than 500 products unlike a normal supermarket that
might have 10,000. It reminds me of Aldi, the huge German supermarket
operator that was the trendsetter to this type of operation.
Denner's distinctive red stores for example, might carry butter
but if you don't like the brand then you're out of luck because
it's your only choice.
The six-story, 1970's building stands several miles from Zurich's
downtown. Receptionist Frau G. Kaufmann mans the desk in the
spartanly furnished reception area and speaks nary a word of
English. I speak nary a word of German. Since information was
scarce on this privately held firm my letter of introduction
(sent a month earlier) was addressed simply to "Chief Executive
The receptionist makes a call and a few minutes later this woman
steps out of the elevator. She says she works for another company
located in the building but came down because she speaks English.
I explain what I do and she in turn relays it to the receptionist.
A few minutes later another woman appears and I explain to her
what I do. Her name is Ms. Ruber and she suggests I contact a
Ms. Kusim. Ruber makes a big point of telling me not to show
up without first making an appointment.
As I'm leaving I ask about the bronze bust of a man near the
elevator. It's Founder Karl Schweri, who died last year at the
age of 85.
Time constraints stop me from attempting a second visit to Denner.