History

ZFV looks back on more than one hundred years of history. Founded by visionary townswomen in 1894, the company is now one of Switzerland’s leading and most diverse hotel, catering and bakery enterprises.

  • 1894

    Ladies bazaar in historic guild house «Zum Schneggen»

    On 19 and 20 June 1894, Susanna Orelli and other dedicated ladies from Zurich society were allowed to organise a «coffee hall bazaar» in the male-dominated guild house Gesellschaftshaus der Schildner zum Schneggen at Limmatquai 64 in Zurich. Princely proceeds of CHF 17,184.60 (the equivalent of approximately CHF 180,000.00 today) formed the cornerstone for the setting up of alcohol-free coffee houses and thus for the establishment of ZFV.

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  • 1894

    Establishment of the «Frauenverein für Mässigkeit und Volkswohl» (Women’s Association for Temperance and National Welfare)

    ZFV was founded on 27 September 1894 as the «Frauenverein für Mässigkeit und Volkswohl» (Women’s Association for Temperance and National Welfare). The first president was Nanny Huber-Werdmüller (1844 – 1911), with the driving force and first business director being Susanna Orelli-Rinderknecht (1845 – 1939). Before the backdrop of the immeasurable hardship into which excessive alcohol consumption had thrown numerous families, the time was ripe to provide an alternative to the many inns and drinking dens in the form of alcohol-free coffee houses. Besides countering alcoholism, the visionary founders regarded the following additional objectives as being of particular importance: The betterment of women in the hospitality professions and improvement of national welfare as a whole.

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    Susanna Orelli, the first managing director of ZFV, and Nanny Huber-Werdmüller, the first president of ZFV
  • 1894

    Launch of coffee parlour Kaffeestube zum Kleinen Marthahof

    The first coffee parlour zum Kleinen Marthahof was opened in December of the year of establishment in Stadelhoferstrasse in Zurich. The demand for non-alcoholic catering facilities was great from the first day onwards. The manager at the time was not able to cope with the immense response. Susanna Orelli courageously stood in, taking over in the kitchen and at the till on a temporary basis. This spontaneous and uncomplicated willingness to help was characteristic of Susanna Orelli as a dynamic business woman. A surplus of CHF 2.75 was generated in the first month. The legal form of cooperative business society, to which ZFV remains committed today, proved to be a blessing from the outset.

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  • 1895

    New outlets opened in quick succession

    Motivated by the success of the coffee parlour zum Kleinen Marthahof, further alcohol-free outlets were opened in quick succession: Rose and Frohsinn in 1895, Sonnenblick in 1896, Karl der Grosse and Lindenbaum in 1898, Blauer Seidenhof in 1902 and Olivenbaum in 1904.

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  • 1897

    Rütli – the first hotel

    When it took over Hotel Rütli at the entrance to Zurich’s Niederdorf district, ZFV started out in the hotel business just a few years after its establishment.

     

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    Hotel Rütli around 1910 and in the nineteen thirties
  • 1900

    Realisation of a visionary idea on the Zurichberg mountain

    The building of Hotel Zurichberg as an alcohol-free people's spa facility represented a dream come true for Susanna Orelli: that of offering to all sections of the population the possibility of enjoying holidays or indulging in coffee and cake in a privileged position high above the city. Thanks to considerable negotiation skills, she was able to persuade the city council of Zurich to sell, to the still young company, a piece of real estate almost 27,000 m2 in area on the Zurichberg mountain to realise the company’s visionary idea. The land and building costs totalling CHF 500,000 were financed by means of issuing a 3 % public bond of CHF 330,000, representing an extremely innovative idea in those days. The hotel opened on 1 November 1900, after a 15-month construction period. The introduction of self-service in the restaurant represented the creation of Zurich’s first self-service restaurant. An overnight stay in the new hotel cost CHF 1.50, with full board CHF 3.00.

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  • 1905

    Presidency passes from Nanny Huber-Werdmüller to Marie Finsler

    Nanny Huber-Werdmüller (1844 – 1911) was forced to concede the presidency to Vice-President Marie Finsler (1865 – 1929) for health reasons.

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  • 1908

    Way ahead of her time

    Susanna Orelli was way ahead of her time, not only in terms of her catering services. She also set standards in terms of human resources policy. Already in those days, she regarded the employees as the company’s greatest asset. Her objective was «to provide decent work on decent terms and conditions for decent girls and women». The employees received the following benefits right from the start:

    • Fixed monthly salary instead of tips
    • 10-hour day
    • 1 free day per month plus half a free day per week
    • Leave of up to 4 weeks once or twice a year
    • Sickness and accident insurance paid by the employer
    • Old age provision long before AHV old-age insurance was introduced in 1948

    In 1908, Susanna Orelli also established the school for catering manageresses. This training of responsibility-bearing employees was intended to provide staff for the company’s own outlets. But the objective was also to improve professional possibilities for women in the hospitality industry.

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  • 1910

    First name change

    The «Frauenverein für Mässigkeit und Volkswohl» (Women’s Association for Temperance and National Welfare) was renamed as the «Zürcher Frauenverein für alkoholfreie Wirtschaften» (Zurich Women’s Association for Alcohol-Free Public Houses).

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  • 1910

    Takeover of the Volkshaus am Helvetiaplatz

    After several years of preparation, the alcohol-free Volkshaus am Helvetiaplatz was opened in 1910. This takeover was preceded by a bitter and lengthy discussion on the subject of alcohol. With her arguments, Susanna Orelli was finally able to assert herself against the workers’ movement which had obstinately insisted on serving alcoholic drinks. The enterprise remained part of ZFV for seventy years.

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    Volkshaus am Helvetiaplatz
  • 1914

    Entry into the institutional catering market

    In 1914, ZFV started out in institutional catering and took over the canteen in the recently constructed college building of the University of Zurich. The catering operation, which currently consists of three canteens, seven cafeterias and the uniTurm restaurant is still operated by ZFV.

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  • 1919

    Award of honorary doctorate to Susanna Orelli

    On 21 May 1919, the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich awarded an honorary doctorate to Susanna Orelli. She was the first woman to receive this honour. In the same year, Susanna Orelli, who was now 74 years old, gave up all her tasks at ZFV.

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  • 1919

    The Hirzel era

    Marie Hirzel (1881 – 1969) had been a volunteer with the «alcohol-frees» since she was young. In 1907 she took on a permanent position. After taking on the chairmanship of the operations commission in 1915, she succeeded Susanna Orelli in 1919, becoming corporate president at the same time. For 37 years, Marie Hirzel managed the legacy of Susanna Orelli as president as well as acting as chairman of the executive board. She conscientiously pursued the motto of Susanna Orelli: «We need a healthy accountancy division to ensure that our enterprise succeeds.» During the Hirzel era, ZFV encountered economically and politically difficult times (global economic crisis in 1929 and Second World War 1939 – 1945), developing sharper contours as a result and becoming a stable part of Zurich’s economy.

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    Marie Hirzel, successor to Susanna Orelli
  • 1928

    Operation of festive-event catering at SAFFA

    ZFV was an essential presence at SAFFA (Swiss Exhibition of Women’s Work) in Bern. Between 2,000 and 3,000 meals were served there each day.

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  • 1939

    Operation of festive-event catering at the LANDI site

    After 1914, ZFV managed the festive-event catering at the LANDI site for the second time in 1939. Well over 1.3 million visitors were catered for over a period of four months.

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  • 1956

    «Threesome» at the company’s helm

    Doris Bänziger was elected president at the cooperative meeting on 23 November 1956. Ruth Karrer became quaestor. Together with Gertrud Fleckenstein, a further member of the Board of Directors, they assumed control of both the strategic and operative management of ZFV. A stagnation phase followed until the middle of the seventies. Several enterprises were closed down and sold off. It was only in institutional catering that progress was made, with the creation of self-service buffets in universities, secondary and vocational schools. In 1969 Doris Bänziger retired as president. The «three-member executive board» was discontinued at the same time. While there was an interregnum in the presidency from 1969 to 1971, Gertrud Fleckenstein held the post of delegate of the Board of Directors until 1975.

  • 1971

    Adelheid Fischer – president during difficult times

    Before Adelheid Fischer became president, she served as a lawyer for ZFV for almost 30 years. She knew the company and the philosophy behind it like no other. During her eight-year term of office, she succeeded, together with her designated successor Rosmarie Michel, in restructuring the company and laying the groundwork for a positive future. She went down in the history of ZFV as an important transitional president.

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    Adelheid Fischer
  • 1972

    Relocation of central administration to Mühlebachstrasse 86

    The former residence of the first president, Nanny Huber-Werdmüller, had for decades served as a staff house for the employees of the restaurant Olivenbaum. It was converted for central administration use in 1972. It remained the head office of ZFV until 2009.

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  • 1973

    Commissioning of the central bakery in Dübendorf

    In 1973, ZFV opened its own central bakery in Dübendorf. It had to be closed again in 1992 due to returns being too low.

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  • 1975

    The advent of men

    At a turbulent annual general meeting in 1975, the decision was taken to include men in the Board of Directors and the executive board of ZFV. However, the presidency continued to remain the preserve of women. After the resignation of Gertrud Fleckenstein, Eric Kündig was elected as chairman of the executive board. Thanks to his thriftiness and simultaneous awareness of quality, his rehabilitation efforts bore rapid fruit, and it proved possible to stabilise the company.

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    Eric Kündig, first male chairman of the executive board
  • 1979

    Spirit of optimism with Rosmarie Michel

    Rosmarie Michel was elected to the Board of Directors of ZFV in 1970. As an entrepreneur, she supported Adelheid Fischer in regard to all issues concerning the company and its properties. When Adelheid Fischer was forced to give up the presidency in 1979 for health reasons, Rosmarie Michel became her successor. During her term of office, the Volkshaus and Rigiblick had to be relinquished, as alcohol was scheduled to be introduced in these businesses. On the other hand, various building projects were initiated, including total refurbishment of Olivenbaum and renovation of Zurichberg. With the aid of a new mission statement drawn up in the mid eighties, the company was also freed from the ballast which had accumulated over the decades.

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  • 1989

    Nomination of Rosmarie Michel as permanent guest of honour of the University of Zurich

    On 29 April 1989, Rosmarie Michel was nominated permanent guest of honour of the University of Zurich

  • 1990

    Entry into the staff catering market

    With the opening of the Orbit restaurant in Zurich-Oerlikon on behalf of Credit Suisse and of the Key West restaurant in Zurich-Altstetten on behalf of the Swiss Banking Association, ZFV entered the field of staff catering. This laid the cornerstone for an important new business division.

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  • 1990

    Second name change

    The second name change followed almost 100 years after the foundation of the cooperative business society. The «Zürcher Frauenverein für alkoholfreie Wirtschaften» (Zurich Women’s Association of Alcohol-Free Public Houses) was renamed «ZFV-Unternehmungen».

  • 1993

    Dr. Sigrid Viehweg becomes new chairman of the executive board

    On 1 January 1993, Eric Kündig was replaced as chairman of the executive board by food chemist Dr. Sigrid Viehweg. As a result, after 17 years the executive board was once again in women's hands.

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  • 1994

    Hundredth anniversary celebrations

    One hundred years after its foundation, ZFV had 41 operations at its disposal and employed a total of 498 people. With total net sales of CHF 48.0 million, corporate earnings before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation (EBITDA) of CHF 2.5 million were generated. The recorded annual profit amounted to CHF 100,000. The 100th anniversary was celebrated in style. The book «Weibliches Unternehmertum» (Female entrepreneurship) by Dr. Monique Siegel represents an impressive report on the first one hundred years of ZFV. Hotel Zurichberg was also restored to its former glory in good time for the anniversary.

  • 1995

    Dr. Regula Pfister achieves the turnaround

    As a result of renovating and extending Hotel Zurichberg and totally refurbishing the Olivenbaum property, ZFV had overextended itself. It was necessary to take rapid action. A three-member organisation committee consisting of Dr. Hugo von der Crone, Peter H. Müller and Dr. Regula Pfister was therefore established by the Board of Directors. In the middle of 1995, Dr. Regula Pfister succeeded Dr. Sigrid Viehweg as chairman of the executive board. The focus was on stemming the cash drain, stabilising the company, and repositioning it. Thanks to a rigorous programme of savings, combined with wide-ranging personnel changes, Dr. Regula Pfister succeeded in achieving the turnaround within eighteen months.

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  • 1997

    Starting to extend and expand

    When the Swiss Banking Association advertised for bids for its staff catering in 1997, ZFV succeeded in achieving its first great coup after the crisis. Besides the Key West staff restaurant, the Opfikon and Guggach operations also went to the historic Zurich-based company. In the same year, ZFV purchased the St. Peter restaurant from the Swiss Banking Association and managed it at its own risk from then on. This entrepreneurial business model represented new territory in the field of collective catering.

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  • 1998

    Quality on all levels...

    …is the essential prerequisite for positive ongoing development of ZFV. That’s why the quality seal of the Swiss Tourism Association was introduced in 1998. Over 100 operations in the ZFV group currently possess this mark of excellence.

  • 1998

    Award of Social and Cultural prize

    In 1998, ZFV for the first time awarded the Social and Cultural Prize worth CHF 100,000 to institutions, establishments or projects in social and cultural fields. The prize has since then been awarded ten times. In 2008, the value of the award was raised to CHF 400,000.

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  • 1999

    Acquisition of Florida AG

    The acquisition of Florida AG represented a milestone for the hotel division of ZFV. The hotel in Zurich’s Seefeld district was completely gutted, redesigned and reopened as  Hotel Seefeld in March 2001.

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  • 2000

    Stepping over the cantonal border

    With the exception of the two digressions to LANDI in 1914 and SAFFA in Bern in 1928, the radius of activity had previously been limited to Zurich and the surrounding area. In 2000, the UBS AG company commissioned the company to manage a further six restaurants – two each in Bern and Basel and one each in St. Gallen and Zurich. Thus, the groundwork was laid for expansion of business activity to the whole of German-speaking Switzerland.

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  • 2001

    Change of presidency from Rosmarie Michel to Dr. Regula Pfister

    After 31 years of membership of the Board of Directors, during which time she held office as president for 22 years, Rosmarie Michel passed the baton to Dr. Regula Pfister at the Annual General Meeting held on 15 May 2001. This again saw the beginning of a period during which chairmanship of executive board and the presidency were in the hands of the same person.

  • 2001

    Lifting of the strict alcohol ban

    The change in the articles of association lifting the strict alcohol ban was preceded by years of intensive discussion between the cooperative business society members, the Board of Directors and the executive board. The main driver behind the commitment of the founders of ZFV had been the combating of alcoholism. The aim was to protect the company’s roots without endangering the further development of ZFV. In 2001, the members of the cooperative business society accepted the change in the articles of association with «Regulations for dealing with alcohol». Three different categories of operation were formed in the process:

    • A  Alcohol-free operations
    • B Operations serving exclusively wine and beer
    • C Operations serving spirits as well as wine and beer
  • 2002

    Launch of the «Sorell Hotels Switzerland» brand

    To provide momentum to the expansion strategy in the hotels field, the «Sorell Hotels Switzerland» brand was created. The name is reminiscent of the company founder and business pioneer Susanna Orelli.

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  • 2002

    Rigiblick – from day-trippers’ restaurant to gourmet restaurant

    In 2002, ZFV was able to buy back from the City of Zurich Rigiblick after the latter had to be sold in 1975 as the result of economic difficulties. The simple day-trippers’ restaurant was completely refurbished. Seven extensive apartments designed for longer stays were created in the upper part of the building. Two restaurants were constructed in the lower part: Spice and Quadrino. Together with host couple Felix and Lucia Eppisser, it proved possible to make the Spice fine dining restaurant one of the leading gourmet venues in the City of Zurich within a short time.

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  • 2004

    Net sales of 100 million francs

    After 110 years, ZFV for the first time exceeded the net sales threshold of CHF 100 million. At the same time, the number of staff passed the thousand mark with a total of 1,012 employees.

  • 2004

    Launch of the Mishio concept

    In 2004, the first Mishio was opened in Sorell Hotel Seidenhof. Mishio stands for fast, fresh and healthy Asian canteen food. In 2005, the concept was selected for the «Best of Swiss Gastro Award» under the «Newcomer» category. Two further Mishios have since been opened, in Zurich and Bern.

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  • 2005

    Opening of a catering facility in the Paul Klee centre in Bern

    In June 2005 a catering facility was opened in the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern. The facility includes the museum's cafeteria and the elegant restaurant Schöngrün. The latter was awarded 15 Gault Millau points during its first year under the management of Werner Rothen. Today Restaurant Schöngrün boasts 17 Gault Millau points and one Michelin star.

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  • 2006

    Acquisition of Kleiner and Schurter

    ZFV launched a bakery and confectionery line for the second time in its history with the acquisition of Confiserie Schurter AG at Central in Zurich and of Kleiner Konditorei-Bäckerei AG with a production site in Zurich-Altstetten and several shops in the Zurich region.

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  • 2006

    Takeover of catering operations at the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz

    As of 1 July 2006, ZFV took over the catering operations at Verkehrshaus der Schweiz in Lucerne. The company played a crucial role in setting up the Mercato self-service restaurant and Restaurants Piccard in the new «Futurecom» building constructed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Verkehrshaus.

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  • 2007

    Entry into the stadium catering market

    ZFV took over the catering operations at the Letzigrund Stadium  in Zurich in September 2007. The facilities include the public Restaurant Oval, ten box seats and 18 external stands.

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  • 2008

    Launch of the «Bewusst geniessen!» (savouring with all your senses) brand

    Together with a dietician, ZFV developed the concept of «Bewusst geniessen» for its institutional catering operations. The brand features a type of nutrition compass for guests indicating which dishes are particularly well balanced, which are suitable to cover increased energy requirements, and which should only be enjoyed on an occasional basis.

  • 2008

    Takeover of catering operations at the Bundeshaus (Swiss parliament)

    The Galerie des Alpes restaurant in the converted parliament building in Bern was opened for the beginning of session at the end of November 2008. A year earlier, ZFV had already started to operate the cafeteria, thus continuing the course of expansion in the Bern region.

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  • 2009

    Relocation to Flüelastrasse

    Since the headquarters at Mühlebachstrasse 86 in Zurich had for some time been bursting at the seams, relocation to the property at Flüelastrasse 51 in Zurich-Albisrieden took place in March 2009.

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  • 2009

    Two seminal acquisitions

    Due to its innovative powers, ZFV was entrusted – without a submission process – with the Cloud restaurant in the Gehry building on the Novartis Campus in Basel. Acquisition of the entire catering operations at the University of Bern enabled the education division to be greatly expanded in the same year.

  • 2010

    Entry into the trade fair catering market

    In 2010, ZFV took over the entire catering operations at the new exhibition centre of BERNEXPO in Bern. After the opening of the main operation Henris Restaurant & Lounge four catering outlets followed in 2011: Bar & Café Intermezzo, Ess-Oase Mercato, Brasserie Bernoise and Restaurant Festhalle.

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  • 2010

    Expansion to Western Switzerland

    After ZFV had been present exclusively in the Zurich region for over one hundred years, it expanded its field of activities to the whole of German-speaking Switzerland in 2000. Ten years later, expansion in to Western Switzerland succeeded as the result of the takeover of the staff restaurant at the Le Provençal of Helsana Versicherungen AG in Lausanne. As a result, ZFV is active throughout the whole of Switzerland.

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  • 2011

    Henris Catering & Events is born

    Since November 2011, ZFV-Catering trades under a distinctive name: Henris Catering & Events. With a branch in Zurich and one in Bern, the aim is to conquer the competitive catering market.

  • 2011

    ZFV lifts off

    At the beginning of May 2011, ZFV took over Inflight Catering at  Bern-Belp airport and is thus now indulging flight passengers for the first time.

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  • 2011

    Awards in the form of points and stars for ZFV

    The three gourmet restaurants operated by ZFV – Schöngrün in the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Pearl at Sorell Hotel Krone in Winterthur and Spice at Rigiblick in Zurich – have been awarded a total of 49 Gault Millau points and 2 Michelin stars. This represents the best result in the history of ZFV.

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  • 2012

    Net sales threshold of 200 million francs exceeded

    It had taken 110 years to reach the net sales threshold of CHF 100 million. It took only eight years to generate the next CHF 100 million of net sales. The EBITDA amounted to CHF 24.8 million, the cash flow to CHF 28.2 million.

  • 2012

    Expansion of Sorell Hotels Switzerland

    With the purchase of four Zurich hotels – Hotel Aarauerhof in Aarau and hotels Rex in Zurich, Arte in Spreitenbach and Sonnental in Dübendorf – Sorell Hotels Switzerland saw substantial expansion to currently 17 hotels with almost 900 rooms.

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  • 2013

    Dr. Regula Pfister hands the baton to Andreas Hunziker

    On 3 January 2013, Dr. Regula Pfister conceded her office as CEO to Andreas Hunziker after over 17 years. After the turnaround she had succeeded in following on from the pioneering phase of Susanna Orelli and lending entrepreneurial momentum to ZFV. Since taking over the helm of the company in 1995, she more than quadrupled net sales and the number of employees. Her concern was always to increase net sales and operating result – if possible in parallel. She succeeded in doing this as the result of consistent diversification in the hotel, catering and bakery-confectionery divisions. The number of catering outlets increased to over 140. As president of the Board of Directors, she still helps shape ZFV.

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    Dr. Regula Pfister as president of the Board of Directors (former CEO) and Andreas Hunziker, CEO
  • 2013

    Nomination of Dr. Regula Pfister as permanent guest of honour of the University of Zurich

    On 26 April 2013, Dr. Regula Pfister was nominated permanent guest of honour of the University of Zurich.

  • 2013

    Setting up of United Against Waste

    Together with other companies operating in the food service market, ZFV founded the United Against Waste association. The association campaigns against food wastage and intends to reduce it by half by 2020.

  • 2014

    ZFV today

    With Andreas Hunziker as CEO, ZFV has succeeded in following on from the successes of the Pfister era. With over 150 own catering operations and managed establishments and over 2,500 employees, ZFV is today one of the largest and diverse catering, hotel and bakery groups in Switzerland.

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Further information