Läderach is an organisation that was designed to make sweet moments of enjoyment in everyday life and their chocolate journey has been defined by delightful discovery. In this interview, RLI speaks with CEO Johannes Läderach to learn more about how the brand has dealt with the pandemic and what their plans are for the future.
Chocolatier Rudolf Läderach Jr. founded his company in 1962 in Glarus, which back then was a small village in Switzerland with the idea of creating a “Confectionary of Sweet Gits”. Eight years later he invented a new manufacturing procedure for the chocolate truffle, improving the taste and texture. Since then Läderach has composed countless recipes that blend classic notes with modern aspirations.
All of the ingredients they use are meticulously selected and the brand is proud to exclusively produce their products in Switzerland. The Swiss Alps may be the home of the brand, but the world is its guest.
“Today we operate over 100 stores, with around a quarter of these being franchised stores with the rest being run by us,” explains Johannes Läderach, CEO of Läderach. “However we will soon increase this to around 140 stores following the agreement to take on over 30 Godiva stores following their site closures in the US.”
The onset has been particularly difficult for the company as they only sell their products through their own stores and online, and while this is usually a strong point for the brand because people have been working from home and tourism has essentially been shut down, the company lost around a third of their turnover.
To help counter this, they kept in touch with their customers through their digital channels, which have seen exponential growth during the past 18 months. They have also been innovative with delivery systems and at the same time continued with their physical retail strategy because they believe in their business model in the medium- and long-term. They have even continued to open boutiques in these unusual times, launching their flagship store in the UK on Regent Street last year as well as launching boutiques in the US and Canada.
In the coming months, the idea is not to add stores in additional countries, but rather to focus on the 15 countries they are already present in and adapt and grow in those territories.
“We realised that there are a lot of synergies when you are in a city and you are in a position to open a third or even a fourth store around the same area, because with a company like ours that has fresh products, you can move the products back and forth between boutiques and even assist each other with staff members,” Läderach says.
Innovation of product is a pivotal part of the company focus, and the head of innovation and production is Elias Läderach who is the current World Chocolate Master. Their recent product launches include chocolate tablets and chocolate popcorn. They try to launch one or two major innovations each year along with many seasonal items.
Because of everything that has happened across the world in the last 18 months or so, the store of the future may look a bit different to what shoppers are used to. However, Johannes feels that in the food sector, particularly the premium food sector, the store experience is still about indulgence and customers still want to visit a physical store and smell, touch and taste the items.
“I feel, even in the long run, that stores will play a key role in building the brand and making the products accessible together with
When discussing social media, Johannes immediately says that while they are of course key channels, it is the content you generate that makes them so important. He feels that they have a major advantage because chocolate is such a unique product.
“Social media is an immense opportunity to tell our stories and while we are doing that now, we are not doing it enough and we are currently hiring new people to generate content in terms of videos and posts. We firmly believe that good content will also distribute itself because people will feel like sharing it,” Läderach comments.
The two key cornerstones throughout the company’s existence have been people and product, this has not changed throughout its 59 years and this is why customers have remained loyal to the brand, even through difficult times in the wider economic world. Johannes says people love the friendliness displayed by staff, along with the advice they receive and the generous sampling on offer. Then of course they appreciate the innovative and high-quality products which they can savour with all five senses.
It is this idea of growing the company at an ideal pace whilst maintaining these levels of product quality and innovation that is what Johannes feels is the biggest challenge facing Läderach in the future.
“I am excited for the future after a period of time unlike anything we have ever seen before, and I hope that the situation will continue to improve in the coming months,” Läderach concludes.