Migros (ˈmiɡro) is one of Switzerland's largest enterprises, its largest supermarket chain and largest employer. It co-founded Turkey's largest retailer, Migros Türk, which became independent of Migros Switzerland in 1975.
The name comes from the French "mi" for half or mid-way and "gros", which means wholesale. Thus the word connotes prices that are halfway between retail and wholesale. The logo of the company is a large orange M, which some Swiss call "the orange giant" (German: oranger Riese, French: géant orange). The firm's loyalty card is the M-cumulus card (a play on the word accumulate and a type of cloud formation).
As early as 1935, Duttweiler showed his zest for expansion by founding the Hotelplan travel agency. Later the Migros brand was applied to a weekly magazine, Wir Brückenbauer (now know as Migros Magazin) in 1942. Other ventures were restaurants in 1952, gasoline stations (Migrol) in 1954, language schools (Eurocentres) in 1956, a bank (Migros Bank, Banque Migros) in 1957 and an insurance company, 1959. It opened its first foreign supermarket in the frontier region of France, at Thoiry, in 1993, and its first recreation park, Säntispark, at Abtwil in St. Gallen, in 1986.
In 1954 Migros entered the Turkish market, forming Migros Türk in partnership with the Istanbul City Council. This was sold to Turkish group Koc Holdings in 1975 and is the largest retailer in Turkey.
Reflecting the altruism of its founder, Migros operates a number of evening schools for working adults, featuring classes in cooking, languages and other subjects. It has obligated itself to spend one percent of its annual turnover for financing cultural projects in a broad sense; the sub-organization taking care of this is called Migros Kulturprozent ("cultural percent"). An example of the Kulturprozent's activity is its own record label Musiques Suisses often featuring little-known works from Swiss music history.
The supermarkets are categorized in the three size classes of M, MM and MMM.
Migros acquired some notoriety in 1977 when it fired its severest internal critic, Hans A. Pestalozzi.
In 1996, influenced by the budget ranges in supermarket chains in Australia, Migros made their budget range called M-Budget with 70 products aimed at those with low incomes and large families. Now it has grown to 330 products including mountain bikes, snowboards, mp3 players, milk chocolate, jeans, shoes and lighters. M-Budget products have a standardized packaging color scheme, consisting of a grass green background with the Migros logo in small white text repeated over it.
Many of these products are produced in limited quantities rather than as an integral, permanent part of the Migros line. Whether they become permanent depends on their success. This, combined with the considerable brand recognition that Migros enjoys, conveys a certain amount of desirability to the rarer products. As a result, M-Budget items will sometimes be considered collectibles, as it is not always sure that they will ever be produced again. To promote the range, in the early 2000s, Migros developed M-Budget Party with tickets costing CHF 9,90 including free non-alcoholic drinks (cola, lemonade and orange juice) and snacks (crisps, chocolate and cakes).
Also in 2005, Migros introduced a premium line called Migros Sélection, featuring for the most part food products typically associated with higher budgets and prepared in different fashions than is available through general stock. Sélection products also have their distinctive packaging, with pearl white and gold color schemes.
In April 2006, Migros announced the M-Budget credit card, an initiative between FCM, GE Money Bank and MasterCard, originally with an annual rate of CHF 4,40, which is low compared to credit card annual rates of CHF 100 for a MigrosBank MasterCard Argent credit card. The card was ready by the autumn 2006. After Coop, the biggest competitor of Migros, announced a credit card without any annual rate, Migros scrapped its annual charge. Migros later announced the full details of the credit card, it will have an APR of 9.9% and the ability to gain cumulus points (1 point per 2 francs).
Migros sells neither alcoholic beverages nor cigarettes in its flagship supermarkets, but some retailers acquired by Migros continue selling these products; this includes Globus, Migrol and Denner stores, as well as their online shopping service LeShop.ch. Migros does not sell racy magazines, either.
Globus Group (became part of Migros in 1997)
The main competitor is Coop, Switzerland's second-largest supermarket chain, a cooperative like Migros, but with a more centralized organization. Amongst the smaller competitors are the Manor department store chain, and more recently Carrefour and Aldi. Although Carrefour and Aldi are very large international supermarket groups, they entered the Swiss market only recently (Aldi opened its first Swiss shops in 2005) and thus operate just a few branches at the present time. However, it is expected that especially Aldi will become one of the major competitors of both Migros and Coop, as it managed to set established supermarket chains in other countries under heavy pressure through an aggressive discount strategy. A further expected competitor is Lidl which has announced to establish supermarkets in Switzerland shortly.
In January 2007, Migros acquired a majority stake in Denner Discount, effectively merging the largest and third largest food retail chains in Switzerland. According to both companies, the move was effected in order for the Denner chain to better compete with increasing foreign competition.