With a retail history that dates back to the 1800s, Switzerland’s department stores have a long and illustrious heritage. Yet rather than remaining rooted in the past, the country’s top retail names are constantly evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of customers. Take a tour of some of the best department stores in the country to discover a stellar line-up of international brands, unique experiences and the highest levels of customer service.
Jelmoli in Zürich is one of Switzerland’s oldest and largest premium department stores. It was founded as a clothes shop in 1833 by Peter Jelmoli-Ciolina and expanded rapidly; so much so that in 1898 a new shop was built to house it. Large, elegant windows meant the new store was soon known as ‘the glass palace’. Located on Bahnhofstrasse, it is today one of the most refined addresses in Switzerland. Monica Monsch, head of marketing and communications, explains that the brand took inspiration from France. ‘The models were the department stores in Paris,’ she says. She adds that when Jelmoli opened the glass palace in 1899 it was the largest department store in Switzerland ‒ and so it remains today.
Jelmoli’s six floors are stocked with around two million items from more than 1,000 international brands. ‘Jelmoli offers a unique customer experience,’ says Monsch. ‘Every department is different and has only the best to offer.’ From the clothing departments to the in-store restaurants, Jelmoli aims to surprise and delight.
The best brands
When it comes to choosing the brand mix, Monsch explains that Jelmoli focuses on two key traits, quality and style. These, she notes, are the most important elements to take into account when choosing new brands to include in the stock: ‘The brand mix consists of well-known popular brands as well as up-and-coming niche brands. It needs a good mix to create a great international atmosphere.’ This season Italian brands Eleventy, Antonelli and Trussardi are being launched in the women’s fashion and accessories department, and Jelmoli also welcomes the Fenty x Puma collection created in collaboration with Rihanna. These directional brands fit the profile of the Jelmoli customer, says Monsch. ‘They know what they like and they can afford it.’ They have a good sense of their own style, she adds, and they seek items to complement their lifestyle.
Jelmoli’s customers ‒ from Switzerland and overseas ‒ also know that they can rely on the store to provide everything they need to create a chic wardrobe and an equally polished home. ‘Jelmoli is a must-visit destination in Zürich for people who love shopping. Jelmoli is for Zürich what Selfridges is for London or KaDeWe is for Berlin,’ explains Monsch. ‘And you cannot leave Jelmoli without taking a picture of the first walk-in cheese humidor in Switzerland, where 250 sorts of cheeses are stocked unwrapped.’ From Swiss cheese to high fashion, Jelmoli has it all.
The Manor group
The Manor group opened its first shop in Lucerne in 1902 and now boasts 63 stores, 33 food markets and 44 restaurants. ‘Manor is located in all regions of Switzerland,’ says Elle Steinbrecher, Manor’s spokesperson. ‘It is a family-owned company and has been synonymous with quality and variety for more than 100 years.’ Manor showcases around a million items across its stores, and its website offers 28,000 products. ‘Manor continually strives to offer a convenient and surprising shopping atmosphere and invests substantial sums every year in its department stores, assortments and services. These are among the factors that explain the company’s success.’
Variety is key
Stocking everything from beauty products to electronics and wine, Manor has built up connections with key brands to present a range of exciting exclusives to its customers. Recent in-store launches include German beauty brand Bilou, Spanish fashion from Sfera and Scandinavian childrenswear label Done by Deer. Manor has become adept at providing a variety of products that appeal to a wide customer base. ‘Through the diversity of products and range of prices we offer, Manor speaks to all kind of customers, such as families, teenagers, young people or the silver generation,’ Steinbrecher says. She adds that Manor appeals to visitors as a brand that offers a wide variety of products, international as well as Swiss, with quality as a common thread ‘whether it’s in the products or in the service. We see Manor as a Swiss company that represents Swiss standards.’
This year look out for a new Manor Fresh To Go at Geneva Cornavin train station and the launch of Sephora at Manor Zürich. In the words of Steinbrecher, ‘passion, enthusiasm, respect and responsibility are Manor key values. Our values are still the same after more than 100 years: the client is at the centre of all our actions.’