Marcel Ottiger will one day take over the family business in the third generation.
Marcel Ottiger (21) has had a few sleepless nights in the past few weeks. The reason: the new electricity tariffs are temporarily bringing his SME to the brink of collapse. But thanks to Blick, the worst could be averted.
The trained chef recently joined the family business. He works at the Landgasthof Kreuz in Triengen LU. And in the affiliated production for spice mixtures. He will one day lead the family business in the third generation. “Our company has been around for over 45 years. We currently employ 20 people. Now we are faced with a major problem that threatens our very existence.” With these dramatic words he reports to Blick.
Electricity for a quarter of a million
In previous years, the company paid 19 centimes per kilowatt hour. Since the beginning of the year it has been a proud 69 centimes. This price premium goes to the substance! Together with the network costs, the SME suddenly has to shell out a quarter of a million francs for electricity – instead of 65,000 francs like last year
“I don’t want to whine,” explains Ottiger when Blick visits him. “I just want to show what’s still to come for all of us.” So many jobs would depend on it. Because: “Most things are still done by hand for us.” The electricity operators would take advantage of the situation and fill their pockets with the money from SMEs. At the expense of the little ones, he suspects.
“Suffering from the Costs”
“The entire family business is currently suffering greatly from these costs,” says Marcel Ottiger. He runs the Kreuz restaurant – known beyond the canton’s borders for the legendary 1-kilo-Schwinger cordon bleu – and Ottiger Gastro und Food AG together with father Werner Ottiger (41) and grandfather Werner Ottiger (75). “The cross is more than just a bar,” he says proudly. “My grandfather bought the restaurant in 1976 and then developed his own bouillon,” says grandson Ottiger.
Agents sold the mixture across the country. And came back excited. After that, Ottiger senior developed one product after the other. For example spice mixtures for French fries, the grill or salads. And soups. The company flourished. Marcel Ottiger’s anger is all the greater: “It cannot be that this successful family history is threatening to end because of high electricity prices.”
Family business in Triengen LU: This is how spice mixtures are produced here(02:03)
Suddenly 250,000 francs in electricity costs
His fears are well founded. “We had to raise the prices with a heavy heart,” says Ottiger. Two major customers have already jumped off. The range will be streamlined. “If things continue like this, we will probably go bankrupt at the end of the year,” is the fear.
He felt pressured and ripped off by his electricity provider CKW, as Blick says. He kept contacting him with new electricity deals. “I hardly ever had more than two hours to make a decision,” Ottiger recalls. Some offers were even significantly higher than the price at which Ottiger finally agreed.
Shopping in the open market
Blick confronts the electricity provider CKW with this business practice. “We can understand that customers feel pressured.” Unfortunately, with the currently very volatile prices, there is no other way. “We buy the energy for the customer on the market,” they say.
Customers on the open market have also benefited from very low prices in recent years. The decision as to when and at what price the electricity should ultimately be purchased cannot be taken from the customer. “It’s always with the customer.”
Suddenly a mixed bill
But you could approach the customer as an electricity provider: After Blick got involved, CKW got together with the Ottigers, whose average annual requirement is 300,000 kilowatt hours. “We are now doing a mixed calculation from 2023 to 2026. We can get away with it better,” says Ottiger, relieved. The electricity costs for this year are now 140,000 francs – and thus significantly lower than at the beginning of the year. The existence of the family business is secured for the time being.