Guido Gretener, the co-proprietor and CEO of the eponymous shoe shops in Zug and Cham, has announced the latter branch is to close at the end of this year.
Bearing in mind the shop in Cham was founded by his grandmother in 1907, 122 years ago, it is only understandable when one hears Gretener say it what a difficult decision it was.
The 65-year-old said that the writing had appeared on the wall some eighteen months ago. “When it became evident it had no future, the only thing left was to close it, hard though this is,” he said, mentioning how turnover in the past five years had not been what it used to be. However, he mentioned the onset of the gradual demise had started back in 2011, when the online dealer Zalando started operating in Switzerland. “Young people just have a different approach to buying than the older generation,” he explained. “Then we had the “franc shock” in 2015, when the value of the Swiss currency rose considerably against the euro. It was only understandable people went across the border on shopping trips. Then, these days, you have to stock a huge range for a dwindling number of customers.”
As to cutting down on staff, Gretener mentioned that, with having the shop on two floors, you need at least two assistants, especially when one promotes oneself as offering personal service. Unfortunately, the slimming down does mean that one full-time assistant and two part-time ones will lose their jobs, though an apprentice employed there will be able to complete her training. “We will do our best to help those losing their jobs,” he said.
Gretener added that this location in Cham, was not exactly in the centre, either, and the many parking spaces nearby had not helped much.
Hence this difficult decision to close this branch down at the end of the year, prior to which they hope to sell off a lot of shoes in their stocks. Hence, too, the decision to concentrate of business in Zug, offering customers the latest trends. “I hope our loyal customers in Cham will make the six-minute journey to Zug S-Bahn to buy from us there,” he said.
While Gretener is of retiring age, he is not in a position to just take things easy and none of his three children want to take over the business, either. “Under the present conditions I would hesitate to hand it over to them anyway”. When he has succeeded in slimming the business down, and making a profit again, in a few years’ time, then he hopes he will be able to find a buyer.