Article by Erminia Leali and Meredith Augustine
PWG November meeting hosted a presentation by one of the most successful Swiss business women, Miriam Blocher, President of Läckerli Huus.
Miriam was born in Zürich, has a degree as a Food Engineer from the prestigious ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich). She has always worked in the food industry (sweets mainly), in different roles and levels of seniority. In 2006 she felt ready to make a difference in the business world and started looking for a company to purchase. She was looking for a food company of the right size (not to too large, or too small) but mostly a business that she could grow and build on. It took her one-year to convince Läckerli Huus’ owner at the time, and descendent of Andre Klein (founder of the company), that that was the right strategic move for the Läckerli Huus. Eventually she was able to purchase the company in 2007 became Läckerli Huus’ owner and President.
Läckerli Huus has a fascinating history that dates back to 1903, and has been one of the symbols of Basel ever since. The company’s bestseller is still the “original Basler Läckerli”. Läkerli has a long history and traces of it can be found as far back as the 15th century. For this reason Läckerli Huus cannot legally patent the word “läckerli,” so the company differentiates itself from competitors by means of a very focused marketing strategy. The use of a prominent new logo and the direct presence in the territory play a crucial role.
The business is comprised of consumer products, corporate gifts and now products contracted for industry (for example, caramel, produced for ice cream makers).
Today, Läckerli Huus employs 150 permanent employees. During the winter holiday season (40% of its annual revenue is generated in the 4th Quarter), the company
hires nearly 100 additional employees, mainly to work in one of their 13 shops (all located in Switzerland). The company’s success during Christmas can be attributed to the fact that in addition to the focus on product(s), they also produce a variety of packaging in the form of collectible tins.
In addition to purchasing products in shops, they can also ordered online from anywhere in the world on the Läckerli Huus’s website.
The company is all about balancing tradition and innovation. Indeed Läckerli Huus is mainly famous for its läckerli, but in its shops or on the shelves of the selected distributors, you can find a much larger assortment of sweets. Innovation is clearly very important, and the company applies it in a very clever way. In many cases the request for a new product comes directly from clients, in others it is the result of R&D strategies. Because Läckerli Huus is still a relatively small company with a limited marketing budget, they regularly ask the employs to test the new products. When a new one makes the cut, the test is also extended to the employees’ families for further feedback.
Ms Blocher is particularly proud of Läckerli Huus’ brand values: quality, tradition, authenticity, enjoyment, originality, and premium. These values are checked annually and consumers always rate the company very highly. Although Läckerli Huus’ products are already distributed in Germany, this market is not very promising because it’s mainly Swiss people who shop there. Japan and China are two countries look very interesting because they have some key consumer characteristics: a cultural tradition of gift giving and a high average spending ability (Läckerli Huus’ products are by nature premium products and in this case they cost even more because of import duties and/or distributer fee). In addition these countries tend to look at Europe and European products as aspirational.
Currently the company is based in Münchenstein but will soon move to Frankendorf, both in the “Baseland”. They are building a new factory that will be big enough to host all business departments, the production and even a boutique. Production there is expected to start in summer 2014.