Last week the top director of the retailer Migros resigned. Now it is slowly becoming clearer what, probably, actually happened, contrary to the official version.
Retailer Migros does not get out of the headlines. The reports range from falling sales in the supermarkets to the loss of market share to the direct competitor Coop to the unnecessary vote on the sale of alcohol.
Now it continues, because the ‘show’ that Migros director Fabrice Zumbrunnen wants to reorient himself is apparently not true.
In fact and truth, the top manager at Migros headquarters was forced to resign by influential circles, the “NZZ am Sonntag” reported. The main reason given for the sacking was that he had failed to maintain a balance between the ten largely independent regional organizations and the head office.
His entire term of office was marked by conflicts within the group, it added. The paper refers to informed circles.
A strong Migros director should have prevented a vote on the sale of alcohol. The whole thing was unnecessary and had been carried out by the regional organizations practically on their own. With the sale of alcohol, the retailer wanted to compensate for declining sales.
But in the end the comrades voted against breaking that taboo, which meant that the venture had ultimately been unnecessary in terms of tying up resources and reputation.
Many of its own brews
Furthermore, the Migros head office had not fulfilled its tasks correctly. On the one hand, this was due to the fact that it was supposed to ensure the same standards throughout the group. But here and there, individual regional cooperatives had broken away and cooked up their own soup. Zumbrunnen should have prevented this.
On the other hand, the head office lost power, for example when in 2020 the regional cooperatives Aare, Ost-Schweiz and Zürich took over the business with the specialist stores – Melectronics, SportX, Do it + Garden, Micasa and Obi. This had actually been at the competence of head office.
According to the “SonntagsZeitung” and “Le Matin Dimanche“, the rapidly falling profits had led Zumbrunnen to want to streamline the organization centrally again in order to save costs. However, the ten regional organizations were said not to have liked this at all.
Finding a balance
And finally, his personality is also said to have contributed to his dismissal. He was quite resistant to advice. Ultimately, however, the top Migros boss had no choice but to listen and only then make the right decisions. The influential super-chief for personnel, communication, leisure facilities and the culture percent, Sarah Kreienbühl, had apparently therefore thrown in the towel two months prior.
In any case, Migros is being cagey and did not comment on the information to the media. However, the group confirmed their efficiency program. It is not unusual, however, to officially present the departure of a CEO as a company’s own desire for reorientation.
The setup of the retailer with its ten powerful regional organizations and one management headquarters is certainly complicated. Finding the right balance between streamlining and ‘long leash’ will not be so easy.
However, especially in the Swiss management style, it should be possible to reach a compromise again and again without a crowbar and in a consensus-oriented manner.
Now Migros has to find that ‘super boss’ for the head office. In the eyes of muula.ch, this would not be easy for the Herculean task at Switzerland’s largest employer. But given the annual salary of around one million Swiss francs, someone will certainly give it a try.