Jelmoli closure: What will happen to Zurich's iconic department store?

Jelmoli closure: What will happen to Zurich's iconic department store?

After the closure of Jelmoli was confirmed last year, many residents of Zurich may have been wondering what would happen to the department store’s iconic building in the heart of the city. Now the future occupant of Seidengasse 1 has been confirmed - and it means the return of an old rival.

Jelmoli in Zurich to close at the end of 2024

In February 2023, building owner Swiss Prime Site confirmed that Jelmoli would be closing its doors at the end of 2024. The international company confirmed that despite its best efforts, it could not find an entrepreneur or business to take over running Jelmoli in the future.

Jelmoli first moved into its flagship home off Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich in 1898. Unlike the traditional supermarkets of Switzerland, the building was one of the first purpose-designed department stores to open in the alpine nation and was meant to resemble a “glass palace” like the stores of Paris and London.

It became a huge hit with shoppers and was also one of the first stores in Switzerland to implement a fixed pricing system where prices were posted not negotiated. However, a downturn in trade beginning at the turn of the 21st century - brought about by a rise in the internet and online shopping - and the ever-increasing rental and utility costs associated with being based on Bahnhofstrasse, meant that the business could not continue.

Swiss Prime Site had originally intended to convert the site into a mixture of offices, gyms and smaller shops. Now it appears that a familiar face on the Zurich high street will be making its return instead.

Manor makes a dramatic return to the Zurich high street

In a statement released on July 9, Swiss Prime Site announced that department store chain Manor would be moving into the old Jelmoli department store in Zurich on a “long-term lease.” Founded in Lucerne in 1902 under the name Léon Nordmann, Manor is one of the largest department store chains in the country. Today, it employs around 7.500 workers in 59 department stores, 27 supermarkets and 23 restaurants dotted across the cantons.

The brand, now owned by the Maus-Frères group from Geneva, closed their flagship Zurich Bahnhofstrasse store in 2020 after failing to agree on a rental contract with the site owners, but is now expected to make its promised return a reality.

What will Manor's Jelmoli store look like?

According to the plans, after extensive renovations Manor will take over the basement, ground and first floor of the Jelmoli building in 2027, occupying 13.000 square metres of space and selling everything from toys and beauty products to stationery and electronics. The new site will also feature a large restaurant that will only use produce made within 30 kilometres of central Zurich. 

While many in the Swiss metropolis will be happy to see the return of Manor, the announcement comes as retailers continue to struggle with falling footfall and rising costs. Concerns have been raised as to the viability of such a large store, given how major brands like Franz Carl Weber, Globus, Jemoli and Migros have struggled to maintain their physical locations and subsidiaries in recent years.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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