Victorinox has acquired its smaller competitor, Wenger SA. Although integrated in the Victorinox Group, Wenger will operate as an independent entity at its existing facility in Delémont in the Canton of Jura. All the personnel at both production sites were notified officially of the takeover last week.

Management said the merger enables Victorinox to strengthen its position in the face of international competition and provides Wenger SA with the financial backing it needs to continue its activities and restructure its operation.

“Keeping the Swiss cross in Swiss hands is the best way to move forward our renowned label with a reputation for superior quality in the world and also to confront the growing competition in the international marketplace,” said Victorinox director Carl Elsener Jr., on Tuesday in Delémont. Carl Elsener Jr. has joined the Board of Wenger SA.

“What better news could the 150 employees at Wenger and the representatives of the local business community hear this morning?”, said Jean-Jacques Gunzinger, board member of the Jura company. In his judgement, “this is the best possible solution for Wenger”. Now having the support of an important Swiss investor to enable it to master this phase of consolidation.

The challenges to overcome are considerable, Mr. Gunzinger added. Among the most important he mentioned:

  • regaining the markets – this includes repositioning specific products in the marketplace and the development of products based on the image of the “Swiss Army Knife”
  • economies of scale and the exploitation of synergies in manufacturing, information technology and promotion
  • stabilisation of the operational direction of the company in the Canton of Jura
  • return to profitability in 2006

The new Board of Directors of Wenger SA comprises Jean-Bernard Vauclair (Chairman), Jean-Jacques Gunzinger and Carl Elsener Jr. The new team is looking for a Commercial Director.

The new Victorinox group employs more than 1,500 including affiliate companies. The consolidated turnover amounts to approximately 400 million Swiss francs. In 2004, Victorinox achieved a turnover of 169 million Swiss francs in the knife manufacturing sector compared with 23 million by Wenger SA.

Between them the two companies manufacture some 25.7 million knifes and export them to around 150 countries on all continents.