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Gaydoul is voted top entrepreneur of 2005

Gaydoul has stamped his name at the helm of Denner Keystone

The head of Swiss discounter Denner, Philippe Gaydoul, has won this year's prestigious "Entrepreneur of the Year" award.

Second was Peter Sauber, head of the Sauber Formula 1 racing team, with the CEO of chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli, Ernst Tanner, taking third place.

The 33-year-old Gaydoul was cited by economics journalists for his successful growth strategy in a poll conducted by the Handelszeitung weekly newspaper.

By taking over the Pick Pay chain in September, Gaydoul steered Denner into its biggest-ever acquisition.

Company turnover soared by more than a third to over SFr2 billion ($1.53 billion), the number of outlets increased to about 700 and staff numbers rose to 3,500.

He is said to have paid just SFr60 million for Pick Pay, while investing about SFr100 million in recent years to brighten up Denner’s rather drab image.

In the past few years turnover and profit have risen in double-digit figures in a stagnating Swiss retail market.

Gaydoul, who received 57 of the votes cast, explained to the newspaper what entrepreneurship meant for him.

“First and foremost taking responsibility but also calculated risks, nailing one’s colours to the mast in good and bad times, and acting as a role model for my staff.”

And he made a plea for more entrepreneurship in Switzerland.

Understanding employees

“Entrepreneurs as a general rule are more innovative than managers. They think more in the longer term. Entrepreneurs as bosses have a different understanding of their employees,” said Gaydoul.

“They create new jobs. More entrepreneurs would be welcome in this country,” he added.

Peter Sauber, who at the age of 62 is stepping out of the Formula 1 motor racing circus, received 46 votes. Sauber, a self-made man with 35 years of experience in the automobile industry, is praised for giving his all to racing, despite maintaining that petrol was not in his blood.

He told the Handelszeitung that it was not so much the Formula 1 grand prix races themselves that stressed him but finding sponsors to pay his 300 staff in Hinwil near Zurich their well-deserved salaries.

Sauber announced in October that his team was being taken over by Germany’s BMW, which is honouring his work by retaining the Sauber name.

Ernst Tanner, aged 59, once again takes a leading position in the poll.

Tanner, who took over the helm at Lindt & Sprüngli in 1993, has transformed the company into a highly regarded chocolate maker.

Turnover has increased from SFr821 million to over SFr2 billion, the share price has increased by a factor of ten and the company has no debts.


Top five entrepreneurs:

Philippe Gaydoul : Denner (57 points)
Peter Sauber: Sauber (46 points)
Ernst Tanner: Lindt & Sprüngli (39 points)
Edgar Oehler: Arbonia-Forster (36 points)
Daniel Borel: Logitech (34)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR