Franz Carl Weber to disappear from Swiss high streets, media claims

Franz Carl Weber to disappear from Swiss high streets, media claims

143 years after the Swiss brand was first founded, several media reports have suggested that Franz Carl Weber toy stores are not long for this world. They predicted that with most of its branches across the country closing, one of Switzerland’s most iconic stores will soon be consigned to that great toy cabinet in the sky.

Franz Carl Weber: An integral part of childhood in Switzerland

For those who grew up in Zurich before the 2020s, nothing filled young hearts with joy more than getting off the tram at Rennweg and making your way into the old Franz Carl Weber store on Bahnhofstrasse. With its multiple winding floors of toys, games and books, the store was affectionately known as a “Toy Castle.” 

While Franz Carl Weber moved out of its iconic premises back in 2016, the brand is still known across Switzerland as one of the best places to get toys and games.

Müller closing down Franz Carl Weber in Zurich

However, according to a report from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), much like Toys "R" Us, future generations will likely be unable to visit Franz Carl Weber. On March 25, Müller, the German pharmacy chain which owns the brand, affixed a notice to the Franz Carl Weber branch on Bahnhofplatz in Zurich, informing customers that “Franz Carl Weber is becoming Müller.”

Similar signs were also found at branches in Basel, Bern and Lucerne, with the NZZ concluding that “Franz Carl Weber, once a place of longing for children of all ages, is likely to disappear forever.” Of the 21 branches still present in Switzerland, the newspaper predicted that they will either be converted into Müller shops or closed down completely. 

So far, the German firm is keeping its cards close to its chest, with a press statement reading that they are aware of the “tradition and importance” of the Franz Carl Weber brand. However, “With the Müller brand, we are continuing this spirit”, creating a “shopping experience for all generations” with an “even larger and more diverse” offering.

History of Franz Carl Weber

Founded by German entrepreneur Franz Phillipp Karl Friedrich Weber in 1881, Franz Carl Weber was originally designed as a community pharmacy that happened to sell toys. However, once it switched to selling toys in force, the brand became one of the most successful in Switzerland.

It experienced its heyday in the 1960s and 70s, and even opened a store on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1974. However, problems started after it decided to expand and renovate its aforementioned flagship store on Bahnhofstrasse and Rennweg in the 1970s. What was a toy dreamland for a then nine-year-old IamExpat writer proved a sales nightmare, placing a huge financial burden on the company - with rental costs spiralling, it was forced to move out of its flagship store in 2016.

Sold first to Swiss supermarket and discounter Denner in 1984 and re-sold in 2006, the company declined and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Despite being rescued from the abyss in 2018, turning a profit and expanding back to places like Lucerne, the company realised that it could not compete with larger brands, and so allowed itself to be sold to Müller in 2023.

Marcel Dobler, one of the entrepreneurs who saved Franz Carl Weber in the 2010s, told the NZZ that he was very disappointed that Müller was running the brand down, noting that they and the firm had an agreement to keep the name alive. “It’s a surprise to me that Müller obviously didn’t manage to make enough money with toys,” he concluded.

Thumb image credit: Sorbis /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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