Chocolate Frey AG
Boy, it sure would be great if every visit was like the one at
Chocolate Frey, which commands the number one spot in the Swiss
chocolate retail trade with a market share of 37%.
Within days of sending my letter of introduction to Managing
Director Wolfgang Brokatzy I receive an e-mail reply from CFO
Christoph Schmassmann, who lets me know he's my contact person.
Chocolate Frey is part of the Migros Group, Switzerland's biggest
retailer with revenues of over $15.7 billion and some 80,000
employees. Chocolate Frey produces more than 34,600 tons of chocolate
goodies a year (or 500,000 bars of chocolate a day) and gross
turnover exceeds $261 million.
It's just starting to rain as I cycle up to Chocolate Frey's
office/factory complex located in an industrial park on the edge
Buchs, a suburb of Aargau. Never heard of Aargau? It's about
30 miles west of Zurich. The six-story office building dates
from the 1960's but visitors enter via a spiffy new reception
area located next door. Within minutes of my checking in with
the receptionist, Schmassmann comes bounding into the lobby from
across the street. What's across the street? His office which,
happens to be located in a gum factory. Yep, the chewing gum
factory is part of Chocolate Frey and, it's the only chewing
gum factory in Switzerland.
The visit is a lot of fun thanks to the enthusiastic Schmassmann.
Approximately 750 people work in the head office/factory. Parking
is free and plentiful, there are no onsite recreational facilities,
the company cafeteria is partly subsidized and smoking isn't
allowed in the workplacethough designated smoking areas
are provided. There's no formal dress code, cyclists enjoy covered
parking, it's two miles to the nearest freeway and 30 miles to
Zurich's airport. Any employee perks? Special prices on the almost
1,500 articles of chocolate and gum produced here.
After donning the customary white smock, hairnet and shoe covers
I'm given a tour of the factory. Afterwards we head up to the
top floor of the office building for a look in Managing Director
Brokatzy's middle office. I like the hardwood floor, note the
fresh flowers, one plant (real), a laptop, three crayola drawings
from kids and, several chocolate tins. What's the view out his
window? The factory.
Schmassmann loads me down with a wide range of Chocolate Frey
products including handfuls of its Skai gum. After cycling a
few miles I realize I've never seen a gum factory and should
have asked for a tour. I end up giving myself a good chewing
Company website: www.chocolatfrey.ch