The Migros branch in Samedan

The first Migros store in Samedan

Allegra, Engiadina!

It's astonishing that until now, there was not a single Migros store in the Engadin. This changed on 1 July with the opening of a new branch in Samedan. Why did it take so long? And who will be working at the new Migros store?

Migros Magazine editorial team

Why only now?

Andreas Bühler, why did it take so long for Migros to open a branch in the Engadin?

We've actually been on the lookout for a suitable location in the Engadin since the mid-1970s. We even investigated a few potential sites, but it never ended up working out. Basically, we needed a large-scale location in order to offer customers our full product range.

Apparently, there was also some political resistance?

Sometimes we couldn't reach an agreement with the person selling the land and this may have been due to them being advised not to sell to Migros. Local businesses didn't want the competition, which is something that – in the early days – Migros experienced in other parts of Switzerland too. In Grisons, there was even a long period when we were forbidden from using our sales vans.

Logistics presented another obstacle, is that right?

Yes. Transport by road would have created some challenges, especially in winter. But now we transport goods by lorry from the operations centre in Gossau SG to Landquart GR and from there, they're transported via the Rhaetian Railway to the Engadin. The entire transport process will be carbon neutral thanks to the use of trains and biogas and hydrogen-powered lorries.

Are there plans for other branches in the Engadin?

Yes, we're definitely considering it. But for now, we're just looking forward to opening the Samedan store.

Portrait of Andreas Bühler
Andreas Bühler

The first branch manager

The branch manager Gjyzele Arifi
Gjyzele Arifi is managing the new branch.© Luca Franziscus

«What most excited me about this opportunity was being able to build something from scratch. So, when I was first approached for the job, I didn't hesitate. I knew I wanted it and was prepared to move from Landquart to Samedan. So, I'm now 100 kilometres away from all my friends. But the project is too exciting to let homesickness get in the way. Within the last year, I've recruited a good 40 employees. I really wanted to find people who are motivated and enthusiastic and who are passionate about the project we're going to embark on together. The majority of them weren't familiar with Migros – how could they be? So, we set up a special training programme to make sure they understood the culture and processes at Migros inside out. As for myself, I joined Migros straight after my retail training. That was in 2003 and a lot has happened in the meantime. I've been assigned more and more responsibilities and was previously responsible for setting up a branch – albeit a small one – in the Principality of Liechtenstein. And now I'm headed to Samedan. My hope for this branch is that we'll be able to win the people of the Engadin over with high-quality products and friendly service.»

Transporting the goods

For supplying the goods to the new branch, Migros Eastern Switzerland is committed to using combined transport. This approach will also – for the first time – be used for fresh products such as bananas, flowers and bread. The lorries that transport the goods from the centre in Gossau to the freight train station in Landquart are fuelled almost exclusively by Swiss biogas. In Landquart, crates are then loaded onto the RhB freight wagons and transported by train to the Engadin. Finally, once the goods arrive at Samedan freight station, they are handed over to a local transportation company for the last short stretch of the journey. In comparison to using diesel-based lorries, this route saves 209 tonnes of CO2 per year – a reduction of 87%.

The Rhaetian Railway travels over a viaduct in an idyllic setting
The Rhaetian Railway© Rhaetian Railway / Andrea Badrutt

The man who brought Migros to Samedan

With a car workshop, petrol stations, a metal construction company and ­various property ventures, businessman Urs Pfister is an important figure in Samedan. The 59-year-old and his ­business partner, Martin Merz, had the idea of developing a large shopping centre. «We really wanted to bring something new to the Engadin.» During their search for an innovative­ partner to accompany them in this endeavour, the two friends came across ­Migros. Although Pfister was not a Migros child, there is nevertheless a connection. His grandfather, Fritz Duttweiler, was related to ­Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler (1888–1962)­. So as to be able to carry out this large real estate project – which goes by the name Porta Samedan – Pfister handed over the management of his other companies to his children. But, even though the Porta is now up and running, he's not planning on letting himself get bored. «I'm already planning the next project – a hydrogen fuel station with its ­own H2 production facilities.»

Portrait of Urs Pfister
Urs Pfister initiated the construction.© Rolf Canal

The employees

Denise Pally (47), Head of Food

«I worked in a restaurant on Alp Grüm for many years and always really enjoyed it. But I'm actually a pastry chef by trade and I'd wanted to return to the retail sector for some time. With the pandemic, my professional situation became very uncertain. For a long time, we were in the dark about when restaurants would be allowed to re-open. That's why I decided to apply for the position of head of department at Migros Samedan. I was able to start work in January at the Migros store in Pizol. Thanks to the help I received there from colleagues, I was able to prepare for the new challenges awaiting me back in the Engadin. I love my new job, which also pushes me out of my comfort zone. One of my responsibilities is to ensure all aspects of the store are well organised and that the shelves are always fully stocked. This means I'm constantly moving about. I certainly won't get bored. I'm from Poschiavo. The village is 40 minutes away from Samedan by car. At the moment, I'm commuting. But who knows? Maybe at some point I'll move back to the Upper Engadin area. When I was 18, I lived in St. Moritz and I have amazing memories of my time there.»

Portrait of Denise Pally
Denise Pally© Luca Franziscus

Jochem Poldervaart (47), Restaurant Manager

For Jochem Poldervaart, his new position as Head of Gastronomy at the first Migros restaurant in the Engadin is a move back to his gastronomic roots. The 47-year-old is originally from the Netherlands. «I travelled to the Engadin in 1996 to take up work at a hotel business and also to get to know my mother's home region.» Poldervaart had planned to stay for two years at the most and then return to Holland. But now he's been in Switzerland for 25 years. «This is my home now.» In 2004, for family reasons, he and his family moved to Heiden in Appenzell. For the last three years, Poldervaart has been managing a Chickeria store in Eastern Switzerland. After Migros sold this store, the Dutchman decided to look for a new challenge. «When I saw the opening for the head of gastronomy position, I just knew I had to apply. I'm most looking forward to being able to cater for guests again.» For him, gastronomy is much more than just selling food and drink, it's also about creating emotions. «And this is something that's very easy to do when you're working in the beautiful Engadin.» His wife and two teenage children will remain in the lowlands. «My family is fully supporting me with this new endeavour. They're really excited about having a second home in the Engadin again.»

Portrait of Jochem Poldervaart
Jochem Poldervaart is Head of Gastronomy at the new Migros branch in Samedan.© Luca Franziscus

Valerio Iseppi (33) Head of Non-Food

«Migros has a great reputation and is known for being a socially conscious employer. As soon as I found out that a new branch was opening in Samedan, I immediately applied to work there. I previously worked at Interdiscount in St. Moritz and had been looking for the next challenge for quite a while. However, I wanted to stay in the region because I was born and raised in St. Moritz. But, unfortunately, finding a job here is easier said than done. So, this new job really was a godsend. It gives me the opportunity to do something I really enjoy whilst working for a great company. It also means I can stay in the place that's so important to me, where my family and friends are and where I can continue to be involved in various associations. This is a place with a mix of local people and visitors from different countries and cultures, which makes for lots of exciting and interesting encounters. And I hope that, in the future, this will also be the case at Migros Samedan. I'm excited and very much looking forward to it.»

Portrait of Valerio Iseppi
Non-Food Division Manager: Valerio Iseppi© Luca Franziscus

Wie sagt man?


Im Oberengadin redet man traditionell die rätoromanische Sprache «Puter». Wir haben typische Worte und Sätze aus einem Migros-Supermarkt in diese Sprache übersetzen lassen:

Kasse: cassa

Einkaufswagen / Einkaufskorb: charrin da cumpras / chavagna da cumpras

Kassenzettel / Quittung: scrittin da cassa / quittaunza

Kundendienst: servezzan da cliantella

Filialleiter / Filialleiterin: mneder da la filiela / mnedra da la filiela

Preisabschlag / Aktion: reducziun dal predsch / acziun

Cumulus-Bon: bun da Cumulus

Ablaufdatum: data da scadenza

Ladenschluss: serreda da la butia

«Guten Tag. Wie geht es Ihnen?»: «Bun di/Allegra. Cu vo que?»

«Welche Engadiner Spezialitäten können Sie empfehlen?»: «Che specialiteds engiadinaisas po El/Ella arcumander?»

«Danke. Einen schönen Tag!»: «Grazcha. Ün bel di!»

«Haben Sie Cumulus?»: «Ho El/Ella Cumulus?»

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