History of Migros Commitment
Migros’ social and cultural commitment stretches back many decades.
Timeline Migros Commitment
1925 – Migros is established
Migros AG is entered on the commercial register of the City of Zurich on 15 August 1925, the 37th birthday of its founder Gottlieb Duttweiler. Its corporate capital is CHF 100,000.
1941 – Migros becomes a cooperative
In the midst of a general time of crisis, with World War II raging in Europe, Gottlieb Duttweiler makes the bold decision to give Migros away.
Together with his wife Adele, Duttweiler buys up all the shares in Migros AG and turns it into a cooperative. From now on, Migros is owned by the cooperative’s members – i.e. all Migros employees and customers. By taking this step, Duttweiler wants to show he is not just interested in making a profit, but is also committed to social and cultural issues.
1941 – The Monte Generoso Railway is saved
Monte Generoso is the highest mountain in the Mendrisotto region. A rack railway has wound its way up to the 1704m summit since 1890. During the war years, what had once been a tourist attraction was facing closure. The owner wanted to dismantle the railway and sell the tracks as scrap iron. But Duttweiler insisted that this unique vantage point should be preserved. He believed it would be possible to tempt tourists back to Monte Genoroso: «If we sold chops as big as toilet seats there, all Switzerland would come running.» Without further ado he bought the railway – despite the opposition of the Migros Board in Zurich. A cooperative thus became a rail operator; today Ferrovia Monte Generoso is a public limited company supported by the Migros Culture Percentage.
1943 – Investment in Praesens Film
Migros has a long tradition of film promotion, acquiring an interest in movie company Praesens Film AG as far back as 1943. At the time, this move is not only intended to promote Swiss film-making; it also seeks to boost the morale of the Swiss population during the difficult war years. One production from this era, «Marie-Louise» by Leopold Lindtberg, even wins an Oscar in 1946. Although Migros eventually withdrew from the company in 1965, the Migros Culture Percentage remains heavily involved in film promotion today.
1944 – The Club School is launched
Migros begins offering language courses in spring 1944. Those interested in learning a new language can take classes in Italian, French, English, Spanish or Russian for an unbeatably low price. The concept is a runaway success. From 1948, Migros expands the range of courses held at its «Club School» to include fencing, painting, beauty care, dancing and plant care.
1946 – Park «im Grüene» is gifted
In December 1946, Adele and Gottlieb Duttweiler set up the «Im Grüene» Foundation. Their 45,000m2 estate in Rüschlikon is handed over to the foundation. The foundation’s main aim is to create an institute that will «promote social progress in Switzerland and beyond». Although the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute will not be inaugurated until 1963, the «Dutti Park» throws its gates open to visitors in 1947 – initially only for members of the cooperative, then later for the general public.
1948 – The first Clubhouse Concerts
In June 1947, Migros opens its Clubhouse for adult education classes in a mansion in Zurich.
In March 1948, Duttweiler suggests organising music events in the Clubhouse. Very soon, the «Clubhouse Concerts» have become a staple part of Migros’ cultural offering, subsequently embarking on a first tour in 1949. Today, the series is still going strong under the new name of Migros Culture Percentage Classics. More than 60 years on, its maxim is «great orchestras, renowned conductors, famous soloists and affordable prices».
1950 – The Duttweilers’ 15 theses
Adele and Gottlieb Duttweiler’s 15 theses are published in the Migros magazine «Brückenbauer» at the end of 1950. Although not legally binding, they are intended to serve future generations as guidelines on how to carry on the work of Migros. The Duttweilers are clear about Migros’ social and cultural commitment: «The general interest must be placed higher than the interests of the Migros cooperatives […] Our growing material wherewithal must always go hand in hand with even greater social and cultural contributions. For all the social and political demands we face, we must always make funds available and free up the time of the best among us.» (Thesis 10)
1956 – The Eurocentres are created
«Learning languages where they are actually spoken» – this is the slogan used by Migros to advertise its European Education Centres, which start offering language courses abroad in 1956. By staying with host families, students not only learn the language, they also get to know the country and its culture. After becoming an independent foundation in 1960, Eurocentres now offer courses in 30 locations on 5 continents.
1957 – The Culture Percentage is enshrined in the articles of association
In 1957, 13 independent cooperatives form the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB), which coordinates the activities of the Migros community. The Culture Percentage is defined for the first time in a new agreement between the MGB and the affiliated cooperatives, and incorporated into the articles of association. The Culture Percentage consists of 1% of the MGB’s wholesale revenue and 0.5% of the cooperatives’ retail revenue, and is levied even when the retail trade is not performing well.
1962 – Gottlieb Duttweiler dies (1888-1962)
Gottlieb Duttweiler dies on 8 June 1962 at the age of 74. The whole of Switzerland mourns for the man known affectionately as «Dutti».
1963 – The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Gottlieb Duttweiler prepared the way for the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) when he set up the «Im Grüene» Foundation in 1947. Shortly before his death in 1962, he lays the actual foundation stone for the «construction of an international educational and research institute», as is stated in the deed of foundation. Switzerland’s oldest think tank conducts research into economic and social issues, and promotes unorthodox and unconventional thinking – entirely in the spirit of its founder.
1971 – Migros saves nature reserve near Geneva
The «Park im Grüene» in Rüschlikon finds a counterpart in western Switzerland: Together with the cooperatives from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the Federation of Migros Cooperatives establishes the «Pré Vert du Signal de Bougy» foundation in order to save one of the most beautiful areas of natural interest in the Lake Geneva region. Migros invests more than CHF 17 million in improving the 57-hectare park. It finally opens its gates to the public in July 1977.
1979 – Creation of the Migros Aid Fund
The Relief Fund is created in 1979 following a members’ vote by the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. To complement the Migros Culture Percentage, one million francs per year are set aside for «targeted aid at home and abroad», initially for five years. Migros’ commitment to development aid is confirmed by another vote by the cooperatives’ members in 1984.
The Relief Fund has been enshrined in the Federation of Migros Cooperatives’ articles of association since 2007. In 2016 the Relief Fund is modernised and renamed the Migros Aid Fund. By supporting trailblazing projects at home and abroad, the MGB seeks to help disadvantaged groups in society improve their living conditions and ultimately gain control of their everyday lives.
1980 – 100 years of «Grün 80»
«Grün 80», the second Swiss Garden and Landscape Architecture Exhibition, held in 1980 at Brüglinger Ebene in the municipality of Münchenstein, is a roaring success. After the exhibition is over, Migros Basel commits itself to ensuring that the site is preserved for the next 100 years. The «Park im Grünen» Münchenstein is created.
1996 – The Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
The Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst opens on the site of the former Löwenbräu brewery in Zurich on 4 May 1996. The MGB art collection is exhibited over 1,300m2 of floor space. However, the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst does not see itself as a traditional museum where new art is collected, but rather as a hub for contemporary art production. The museum’s exhibitions present art history as a dynamic process.
1999 – The Gottlieb Duttweiler Chair
To mark the approach of its 75th anniversary, Migros offers to sponsor a professorial chair at the University of St. Gallen. The remit of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Chair of International Retail Management is to conduct research into retail and wholesale issues, with a specific focus on retail management and consumer behaviour. The Chair is not only interested in theoretical research and building a new generation of academics; it is also keen to exchange views with practitioners in the field. The Chair has been held by Prof. Thomas Rudolph since April 2000.
1999 – The Gurten Park im Grünen
The fairy tale of the «new» Gurten starts with several failed attempts to revitalise Bern’s very own mountain. Finally, along comes an orange prince who kisses the long-forgotten recreation area back to life, saving it from rack and ruin and restoring its fortunes.
The Gurten has a colourful past: At various points in its past it has been a spa, a military base during World War I, the venue of Switzerland’s first ski race and of ski jumping competitions, as well as a golf course. None of these finds enduring success. The City of Bern eventually closes the run-down hotel in 1983.
After an injection of 33 million francs the venue has finally been turned round. The Gurten reopens in 1999 with the motto «Gurten for all», proving that every fairy tale has a happy ending.
2007 – 50 years of Migros Culture Percentage
A groundbreaking idea celebrates a big anniversary! More than 600 guests attend a grand party to mark its 50th birthday in 2007.
The MyCulture.ch national competition proves that, even at the grand old age of 50, the Migros Culture Percentage still has plenty of life left in it. This competition gives young people the chance to realise cultural projects of their own and present them on stage. The spectrum is broad, ranging from dance, theatre and literature to the visual arts, design, fashion, film and new media.
2012 – Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst reopens
The Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in the Löwenbräu Art District reopens in 2012 after two years of renovation work with the first Swiss solo exhibition of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. The converted premises give the internationally renowned museum a cutting-edge framework for presenting artworks. One exhibition floor is used to present the collection, while the other is available for temporary solo and group exhibitions.
2012 – Establishment of the Migros Pioneer Fund
Since 2012, Migros’ social engagement has included the Migros Pioneer Fund. The support fund, which was called Migros Commitment until 2021, seeks out and supports ideas with social potential and enables pioneering projects that explore trailblazing solutions. In establishing the Migros Pioneer Fund, Migros has remained faithful to its tradition but also broken new ground with the direction of its funding vehicle. Voluntary social commitment has now been extended to include the Migros Group companies. Migros subsidiaries such as Denner, Migros Bank, Migrol and migrolino contribute 10% of their dividends to the Migros Pioneer Fund, which has an annual budget of around 15 million francs.
2017 – Opening of Fiore di pietra
Fiore di pietra, the new landmark on the summit of Monte Generoso, is an imposing structure in the signature style of world-renowned architect Mario Botta. With the design of a stone flower, it sits in splendour on a rocky at 1704 metres above sea level, offering a breathtaking 360-degree panorama. Its five floors include an exhibition hall, a conference room, a gourmet restaurant and a viewing terrace. The building is a popular location for all kinds of events.
2021 – Launch of the «Migros Commitment» umbrella brand
Migros brings together all of its social commitment activities under the umbrella brand «Migros Commitment». It now encompasses all the ventures of the Migros Culture Percentage, the renamed Migros Pioneer Fund (formerly the Migros Commitment Support Fund) and the Migros Aid Fund. To mark the launch of the new umbrella brand, the three funding vehicles now have both a new digital home and new logos that underscore their shared identity. Migros believes the rebranding will make it even easier for a wide audience to access these unique offerings.