Migros' attempts to ditch alcohol ban met with heavy resistance

Migros' attempts to ditch alcohol ban met with heavy resistance

One of the defining features of the Swiss supermarket chain Migros is its prohibition on selling alcohol in its stores. Now, plans to relax the rules for the largest cooperative store in Switzerland have been met with heavy resistance from addiction charities and local Migros branches.

Migros famous for ban on sale of alcohol

The famous Swiss cooperative Migros is famous for its “progressive stance” on the treatment of its workers, including generous salaries, work contracts and greater opportunities for jobs in regional areas of Switzerland. Along with its' competitor Coop, it is by far one of the largest supermarket chains in the country, with over 600 stores across all 26 cantons.

Migros was founded on a strong philosophy of collective ownership and an emphasis on the wellbeing of its customers, based on the thoughts of founder Gottlieb Duttweiler. One of the hallmarks of Migros is its prohibition on the sale of alcohol in all its stores, as Duttweiler believed that the sale of alcohol had a detrimental effect on his patrons' health.

Although alcohol is available in Migros’ other businesses, such as the budget supermarket Denner, the decision to allow alcohol sales in Migros only passed the vote in November 2021, after 96 years of sobriety. Since the vote, addiction organisations have called on the company to think again.

Vote to allow the sale of alcohol in Migros faces criticism

The president of the addiction organisation Swiss Blue Cross, Philipp Hadorn, said he hoped his group would be given a voice within the company debate. Last week, he wrote to the President of the Migros Cooperative Association, Fabrice Zumbrunnen, calling on Migros to “sit down with us at the table and discuss the consequences of a possible lifting of the ban."

The Swiss Blue Cross hope to launch a social media campaign against the move to allow alcohol in Migros, saying the rule will put recovering alcoholics in danger of relapsing. Hadorn noted that, failing a U-turn on the decision, the association could at least advise Migros on how to sell alcohol responsibly.

The decision on whether to allow alcohol in Migros is now down to votes held in the 10 regional cooperatives within Switzerland. This may lead to a patchwork system where one Migros will sell beer and wine, whereas others may not. If the cooperatives do choose to vote on the new measure, customers can expect spirits on the shelves by 2023.

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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