Swiss retail giant Migros votes to remain alcohol-free

An alcohol ban has been in force at Migros supermarkets since 1928. © Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Voters at Migros regional cooperatives have decided overwhelmingly that Switzerland’s largest retailer should not start selling alcohol.

This content was published on June 16, 2022 - 09:48

All ten regional cooperatives that govern Migros outlets votedExternal link on Thursday to keep the ban in place at all Migros supermarkets, restaurants and take-away shops in Switzerland.

A booze ban has been in force at Migros since 1928, enshrined in the supermarket’s statutes in 1983.

The regional cooperatives in the wine-making regions of Ticino and Valais showed greatest support for lifting the ban (45% and 40% respectively). Migros Zurich and Migros Aare in Bern, on the other hand, voted 80% to keep it. A two-thirds vote in favour would have been necessary to change the status quo at Migros, which has a 35-40% share of the food market in Switzerland.

“The cooperative members have shown their commitment to a traditional feature of our brand,” said Ursula Nord, president of the board of directors of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives.

Thursday’s vote follows a decision last November by a majority of company delegates to amend the company’s statutes to lift the ban. 

Juice man

The alcohol ban was introduced by Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler, who in 1928 bought a struggling fruit juice factory on Lake Zurich as a new production centre and continued the previous owner’s commitment to promoting public health.

But it wasn’t all ideology – Duttweiler apparently loved a drink and a smoke. Buying the factory had put him in debt and he needed money. He gambled on cheap fruit juice, and it paid off.

Despite the vote, Migros has been selling alcohol for years, just not in supermarkets. The Migros group currently offers alcohol in its subsidiaries Denner and migrolino, its internet outlet, the Migrol petrol stations and the partner shops VOI.


With sales of CHF29.9 billion ($30.25 billion) in 2020, the Migros Group is the largest retailer in Switzerland, and with around 99,000 employees (59% women) it is the country’s largest private-sector employer.

Migros is owned by its 2.27 million cooperative members and is organised into ten regional cooperativesExternal link. These cooperatives operate the core business of the Migros Group: retailing. Migros also owns numerous industrial companies, various commercial, travel and logistics enterprises, as well as Migros Bank.

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