Chocolat Frey AG Type Public company Industry Food Founded 1887 Headquarters Buchs / Aargau, Switzerland Key people Hans-Ruedi Christen (CEO) Revenue CHF 404 million (2010) Employees 829 (2010) Website www.chocolatfrey.ch
Chocolat Frey AG, based in Buchs in the Swiss Canton of Aargau, manufactures chocolate and chewing gum. The products of the leading chocolate manufacturer on the Swiss chocolate market are sold both in Switzerland and abroad under the brand name of Frey as well as additional private labels. The company, founded in 1887, is a business entreprise of the M-Industry and has been a part of the Migros Group since 1950.
Frey was founded in 1887 by the brothers Robert (31 December 1861 – 03 March 1940) and Max Frey (09 March 1863 – 17 December 1933). Both had already gained experience with the manufacture of chocolate before establishing the family business. After his training as a commercial employee with the company S.A. de la Fabrique des Chocolats Amédée Kohler et fils in Paris, Robert dealt with machines for the manufacture of chocolate in the engineering works Riccard & Greiss. Max completed his commercial apprenticeship with the company Cramer-Frey in Zurich, for which he was eventually also active in Brazil. On 17 December 1887, they founded the general partnership R. & M. Frey in Aarau. The development of the conche in 1879 advanced the industrial production of chocolate greatly. Robert was already familiar with this technique and he was able to integrate it in his company. Furthermore, from the very beginning production was carried out by electric machines.
First half of the 20th century
In 1906 the firm decided to become a public company. From then on they manufactured chocolate bars and chocolate powder, but also soups and tonics. However, the latter were removed from the range of products later to focus on the manufacture of chocolate.
During the First World War the company benefited from Switzerland’s neutral position. Open customs facilitated the export of chocolate. However, the procurement of raw materials such as cocoa proved to be much more difficult. As a result of good sales prices abroad, business interruptions could be prevented. Through export, turnover could even be almost doubled, from 882,000 Swiss francs (CHF) (1916) to CHF 1,465,000 (1918). Back then the chocolate was available in Germany, France and Sweden, and later on also in England. With the end of the war exports slumped severely. Germany and France were too preoccupied with the reconstruction and were no longer trading partners, leaving only England. This forced the company to downgrade sales to the domestic market. At the beginning of the 1920s, the company teetered on the brink of collapse. Production stood still for days at a time. It was not until the economy recovered around the mid-1920s, that the Board of Directors took heart to develop the foreign market again. However, this attempt failed due to the global economic crisis. During these years Robert Frey junior (born February 18, 1901) gradually took over the company management. His father had already familiarised him with the company early on. This way he was able to ensure that the public company remained family-owned. In 1932 Robert Frey senior retired from the Board of Directors. Only one year later his brother Max Frey died aged 70.
The company also had a tough struggle during the Second World War. Foreign trade was complicated by the war. New import regulations for cocoa and sugar limited the Swiss chocolate market a great deal. Furthermore, many employees as well as executives were called up for military service, so that the company lacked sufficient personnel to advance. Although demand increased slightly after the end of the war, it could not be met due to the lack of manpower.
Thanks to the distinctive economic upswing at the end of the Second World War, the company’s situation improved. In 1946 for the first time the Board of Directors came up with the idea of looking around for partners. Four years later Migros took over the company. Chocolat Frey AG is the oldest acquired company of Migros. Initially the alliance appeared to be debatable, as until then Migros owned its own chocolate factory with Jonatal AG. However, for Chocolat Frey AG the signing of the agreement was an important decision. Although the chocolate factory had to adopt the new owner’s terms and conditions, the company management remained in the hands of Robert Frey junior. In addition, the company’s development was promoted.
Second half of the 20th Century
In 1963 the construction of the present headquarters began and the plant was relocated from Aarau to Buchs in the Canton of Aargau. At the same time the entire chocolate, confectionery and sweets manufacture, which Migros had operated until then, was centralised in one location. With this, the company mutated into a modern and successful industrial firm. Since 1974, as the only Swiss manufacturer it has also produced chewing gum, which today accounts for around 10% of Frey’s total annual turnover.
In the 1980s two-figure increases in turnover filled the business accounting ledgers. In 1985 the company’s turnover exceeded the CHF 200 million threshold for the first time and the firm soon took over leadership on the domestic chocolate market. These good preconditions facilitated investments. Various structural and quality-related changes were implemented and the issue of environmental protection gained in importance. In line with this the company has been procuring district heating from the nearby refuse incineration plant since 1984. Since then the company has managed virtually without heating oil. In addition, the plant was upgraded with a new SBB (Swiss Railways) rail connection. The 80s were of great importance for international trade as well. For the first time since the Second World War foreign trade was re-established. England, the USA, Denmark, Austria and Japan, later also France and South East Asia, imported the chocolate of Chocolat Frey AG. However, for the time being export remained a modest secondary business. During the 90s, the international trade was expanded and professionalised. In 1997 the company launched its new project ‘Chocolat Frey goes international’, with the aim of export contributing to Chocolat Frey AG’s profitability in the long term. A key account management system was introduced for key customer liaison and support.
International trade with private labels continued to be expanded after the turn of the millennium. The Netherlands, Scandinavia, Canada and Germany were new additions. The foreign market became the company’s most important growth factor. Since 2007 in addition to the private labels, the brand Frey has been offered again internationally, both in the travel retail business, i.e. in duty free shops at airports and through sales in collaboration with international trade partners worldwide. In 2008 the two companies Chocolat Frey AG and Delica AG, both specialised in ‘indulgence’ foods, closed ranks. In order to strengthen the international market position and to utilise synergies to their best potential, it stood to reason to place both companies under one overall direction – a position held by the CEO of Chocolat Frey AG. Nonetheless, Delica AG will remain a corporate body, as do the two sites of Buchs and Birsfelden.
Today the company achieves around one third of its total turnover abroad. The products are sold in over 50 nations on all five continents. More than 40,000 tons of chocolate, confectionery products, semi-finished products and chewing gum leave the production facilities in Buchs annually. On the domestic market the company is the number 1 among Swiss chocolate manufacturers with a 39% market share (according to Chocosuisse 2009). Chewing gum also accounts for part of the total turnover as around 10% are achieved in the chewing gum segment, around 2/3 of this with private labels in the international business. 
With the unicorn’s head the company logo of Chocolat Frey AG includes an element of the family crest of the brothers Max and Robert Frey. As the family name of ‘Frey’ was used as a brand name as well, it was also integrated into the logo. In addition, the company’s traditional character of chocolate manufacturing is established through the time reference of ‘CHOCOLAT SUISSE DEPUIS 1887’ (‘SWISS CHOCOLATE SINCE 1887’), which is displayed below the family name against a red background.
In 1967 the manufacturing base of Frey relocated from Aarau to the newly built factory in Buchs in the Canton of Aargau. To date Buchs is the only manufacturing base for chocolate and chewing gum. However, the area was continually developed and extended. Today it comprises several buildings on an area totalling around 70,000 m², for storing and processing cocoa and manufacturing chocolate and chewing gum. In addition (on a further lot of approx. 10,000 m²), the company has its own railway connection to the SBB (Swiss Railways) for the supply of raw materials and delivery of semi-finished and finished products.
More than 500,000 bars of chocolate leave the production premises in Buchs/Aargau daily. Annualised, this means more than 40,000 tons spread over more than 2,500 different products. In addition to chocolate and pralines, Chocolat Frey AG’s core products, the company manufactures semi-finished products (couvertures, chocolate and cocoa powders and liquors, fillings etc.) for further processing in industry and trade, chewing gum under the brands Skai and Candida as well as private labels. With a market share of approximately 39% (according to Chocosuisse, 2009), Frey is the leading chocolate manufacturer on the Swiss market. The company employs over 800 members of staff and in 2010 achieved a gross turnover of CHF 404 million.
Chocolat Frey is certified in accordance with:
In order to be able to control the high demands on quality itself, Frey follows the production process from the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate bar 100% in Switzerland. Every single production step—from procuring the cocoa beans, roasting them in the plant, to careful processing of the chocolate—is carried out by the chocolatiers themselves. A large part of the cocoa beans comes from West Africa, primarily Ghana, but also from South America.
Overall, Frey manufactures more than 2,500 products including a wide variety of chocolate bars (solid and filled), countlines (Blox, Risoletto, Branches and Frey d’Or), truffles and pralines, but also a wide range of chewing gum. For special events such as Easter and Christmas, seasonal products are on offer.
- Chocolate bars: With the Extra fine milk chocolate, Frey has manufactured one of Switzerland’s top-selling chocolates for many years. Further important chocolates are Giandor and the premium line Suprême
- Pralines: Prestige Line
- Chocolate candies
- Chocolate-coated marshmallows
- Easter and Christmas specialities: Today, in addition to Easter eggs and other Easter products, Frey manufactures over 6 million Easter bunnies annually, weighing between 18g and 1,400g (overall around 2,400 tons).
- Semi-finished products
- Chewing gum: Since 1974 Chocolat Frey AG has also offered an extensive range of chewing gum under the names of Skai, Candida and Fruity Fresh as well as produced own labels. Since 1988 only sugar-free chewing gum products have been manufactured.
Thanks to the utilisation of district heating instead of crude oil, respective structural measures, raising awareness and training of personnel as well as consistent controlling, energy consumption could be decreased by almost a quarter over the past 10 years, thus lowering the emission of CO2 significantly. In line with this, Frey was awarded ‘CO2-reduced company’ certification by the commercial environment agency for its voluntary endeavours in favour of climate protection. As a logical consequence, the company was awarded environmental certification according to ISO 14001 in 2008.
SOS Children’s Village Asiakwa/Ghana
With its commitment to the SOS Children’s Village in Ghana, Chocolat Frey AG supports orphaned and abandoned children. In 2007 the company financed the construction of one of currently twelve family houses in the SOS Children’s Village ASIAKWA, Ghana, and since then has secured the annual running costs of this house. It was put into operation in April 2008 and currently provides 7 children with a family environment with a ‘mother’ as a caregiver.
- Official site, in multiple languages, including English
- Official American market site
- Official site of M-Industry in multiple languages, including English
- ^ a b c d e f g h Chocolat Frey archive
- ^ a b c "Chocolat Frey AG bekennt sich zur Umwelt und erhält das ISO 14001 Zertifikat" (in german). http://www.chocolatfrey.ch/Pressemeldungen/a2166bccd1ac94e220d03cd82a12902e.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
- ^ "Swiss Delice melts into Chocolat Frey". http://www.chocolatfrey.ch/objekt/4/e25cf3d35c0ff43f35da3e74e9aaec8a.pdf. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
- ^ a b "Facts and figures". http://www.chocolatfrey.ch/?q=en#/en/xml/facts. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- ^ "Cooperation partner SOS Children's Village" (in german). http://www.sos-kinderdorf.ch/unternehmen-als-partner/kooperationen/Pages/default.aspx. Retrieved 2009-10-4.
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