Negative headlines surrounding the chocolate manufacturer again. Customers react with mixed feelings. Sponsors such as the Zurich Film Festival and the Swiss Wrestling Festival are under pressure.
This is not the first time that the name Läderach has been the focus of negative reporting. Former patron Jürg Läderach has been accused of homophobia for years. In 2020, his involvement in the “March for Läbe” against abortion became known, which caused criticism. There were acts of vandalism at several Läderach branches and calls for a boycott.
The allegations against Jürg Läderach
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On Thursday evening, SRF 1 broadcast the documentary “The Evangelical World of Läderachs – Chastisement in the Name of God”. In it, former students of “Domino Servite” allege that they were subjected to regular beatings and beatings in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jürg Läderach helped set up the school at Kaltbrunn SG. In a report that the school itself commissioned to deal with the situation, there is talk of all kinds of beatings and of beating rituals. In the “SRF DOK” those affected and those involved say publicly for the first time that those in charge – including Jürg Läderach – were also part of this system. He denies this and says he only found out about it prior to the investigation carried out by the school. He apologizes to those affected for the injustice that was done to them in the past. Signs were not perceived; action should have been taken years ago.
History now seems to be repeating itself: one day after an SRF documentary was broadcast, the reactions in front of the Läderach branch on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse were violent: “Someone like that should be held responsible!” One man says he’s even bought Läderach chocolate in the USA: “I’ll never do that again!”
“I will definitely continue to shop there,” says a passer-by. She believes that the product and the attacks have nothing to do with each other.
Expert: Problem with Läderach rubs off on partners
It’s not that simple, because: “Where it says Läderach on it, it has Läderach in it,” says brand expert Stefan Vogler. It’s just the case that Jürg Läderach’s name and personal reputation rubs off heavily on the company, especially if it’s called that. And: “The problem with Läderach is probably also affecting the ZFF.” The Zurich Film Festival is sponsored by Läderach for the first time.
The ZFF wrote to SRF upon request: “We have examined the collaboration with Läderach very carefully. The company is run by the new generation, which distances itself from the old generation. That’s why we’re sticking with our sponsorship with Läderach.” It is important to the ZFF to “give this new generation a chance if it tries to break away from the old one.”
Chocolate: From Glarus to the world
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Founded by Rudolf Läderach in Glarus in 1962, his son Jürg Läderach took over the business in 1994. 10 years later, the chocolatier took over Merkur Confiserien and initiated its expansion abroad in 2010 by opening branches in Germany and South Korea.
In 2018, the three sons took over operational responsibility: Johannes Läderach became CEO, Elias Läderach became Head of Production & Innovation, and David Läderach was responsible for digital transformation. According to Läderach’s press spokesman, Matthias Goldbeck, all shares were then transferred to the third generation. Since then, the second generation is no longer the owner and does not participate in the company’s economic success.
Produced exclusively in Switzerland. Over 1,800 employees are responsible for the chocolate business.
The Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival ESAF, which will take place in Glarnerland in 2025 and is sponsored by Läderach, among others, has time to pull the ripcord. In a written statement it also says: “The management of ESAF 2025 Glarnerland+ is in the process of getting an overview of the further development of the topic.”
And the impact on Läderach itself? “That depends a lot on how Läderach-Senior in particular reacts,” says the brand expert. Whether he would offer a hand for a rigorous clarification and apologize. But at Läderach it can hardly be prevented that this would lead to a short-term loss of image.
As part of the DOK film, Jürg Läderach denies the allegations and apologizes to those affected for the suffering that was done to them. After the DOK film was broadcast, he did not comment again – but the Läderach press spokesman spoke first in a video statement the day after.
Later, son Johannes Läderach also answered SRF’s questions. Today the CEO and student of “Domino Servitute” at the time of the incidents. The documentary – which he watched with his brother – upset him. If what the film shows and what is in the investigation report is true, he condemns it in the strongest possible terms. Johannes Läderach says there are no relationships between the company and the Free Church in Kaltbrunn. He has also distanced himself personally, but his children still go to school in Kaltbrunn: “I will have to discuss the question of where the children go to school again with my wife,” admits Johannes Läderach. The documentary has already raised questions again.
At the same time, he is now committed to ensuring that the Läderach company is judged on the work of the current, third generation. “There are no allegations against us and we have contributed to the investigation.”