Beachroad Magazine had coffee and chocolate for breakfast with Marc Wirth a Dubai resident for 4 years and the MD for Sprüngli Middle East in Dubai. The legendary chocolate brand opened their only store outside of Switzerland at the Village Mall in Jumeirah 1. Their boutique store and beautiful products as well as packaging make Sprüngli a place you need to check out when in Dubai.
Hi Marc, David Sprüngli conceived the brand in 1836 what do you think he would have thought about now having a store in Dubai? // Considering the fact that the car wasn’t even invented during his time, I think he would have been amazed to see how small the world has become. A world where Sprüngli products can be transported to Dubai in just 6 hours by plane! In 1836, we wouldn’t have even been able to call him to report that the products have arrived in Dubai in perfect condition because the phone was not even invented!
In my opinion, David Sprüngli including all six generations after him who are now represented by the Chairman, Milan Prenosil and his brother the CEO, Tomas Prenosil, would and can be very proud of their family business. Especially the fact they have been able to maintain such a classic and independent brand of high quality products for almost two centuries.
Sprüngli products stand for freshness and the highest standard of confectionary art. Exporting such delicate products is not easy especially when we don’t want to compromise and alter the recipe and taste.
What inspired you to work with Confiserie Sprüngli? // Sprungli is one of the most respected brands in Switzerland. Everybody knows Sprüngli and many have childhood memories associated with it. It is quite an emotional brand with emotional products. For me, it is inspiring to work for a company with such a legacy. You don’t find many independent businesses in the world with ongoing operations since 180 years. The food industry itself is very challenging and complex and, therefore, very interesting to work in. The luxury goods industry is also very appealing to me in terms of marketing and branding. Being able to work for such an esteemed company like Sprüngli combines these two industries in the best possible way. There are a lot of other inspiring factors like, for example, we create products which put a smile on people’s faces and make them forget everything around them for a second. It is always nice to see a person’s expression when they bite into one of our products. You can literally see that their world stops spinning for a tiny moment of joy.
What are your thoughts on Dubai as a city and its growth? // Dubai is a melting pot of people from different cultures and backgrounds. I love the fact that I have friends and colleagues from various countries and that all of us are able to sit together and share views, ideas and have cultural exchanges. We all are part of the growth this city is experiencing. We see houses coming up in no time. Nothing is impossible here. It is totally different here compared to my home country where the city centre looks the same as it did 10 years ago. There is nothing wrong with that either but being part of this growth in Dubai makes it very special.
What attracted Sprüngli to open at Village Mall in Jumeirah? // By the time I arrived in Dubai, the construction for the shop had already started. Being at the Village Mall gave us insights into our products, the logistics behind it and made us more experienced. We have managed to bring our products to Dubai with almost no quality difference compared to the products in our home market. Sometimes it is better for businesses to start small and slowly rather than trying to play in the champions’ league in your first season. We might be a big brand from Switzerland but it does not mean that we are automatically a big brand in Dubai. We have enough time to grow. Success is not just about monetary gains. Success for us is building up brand awareness and making people understand that
our chocolates are a niche product for consumers who enjoy the ‘finer things in life’.
What are your plans for the brand in this region? // Definitely increasing brand awareness and expanding geographically. It is important to grow generically with a strict commitment to maintain certain high standards and the uniformity of our products. We will remain independent and, therefore, have full control over our products.
What was your role before working with Sprüngli? // I was a Product and Brand Manager for another Swiss chocolate company. Yes I know... quite the chocolate boy.
Any challenges about living and working in Dubai? // When you live abroad, you are already mentally prepared to face some challenges. And most of the time, this is one of the reasons you move in the first place: to experience and learn new things. We face difficulties in life anyway. So personally speaking, I would not look at ‘challenges’ in a negative way but hurdles, which you will overcome after some time. A job without challenges sounds a bit boring to me. There are obstacles, yes and it’s not easy. For example, we are selling a product in Dubai that melts above 26-30° C and is very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. Then there are other challenges that come with the business per se. But honestly saying we have a small but great team in Dubai, which is willing to tackle every challenge.
Marc answers the Beachroad Magazine Q&A //
NAME? // Marc Wirth.
YOUR FIRST JOB? // I was lawn mowing the garden of an older lady once a week after school.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION? // Managing Director of Sprüngli Middle East.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // My family.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A MEAL WITH ANYONE ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE? // David Sprüngli. I wonder how he would answer your first question.
YOUR FAVOURITE CLOTHING BRAND? // Tiger of Sweden.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // Walking to the kindergarten.. yes we walked to the kindergarten.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // I don’t have one specific person in mind. I like to learn from different people. Everybody has a story to tell and everybody’s experiences are worth listening to. I like to listen and learn from different kinds of people.
WHAT WAS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // A nice box of Sprüngli chocolates.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN? // Enjoy the world. Play outdoors with friends as much as possible. Forget about electronic devices. You will learn soon enough.
YOUR WORST TRAIT? // Impatience.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? // Carelessness.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOUR PART IN A MOVIE? // Let me think of that when somebody shows an interest in doing such a thing.
FAVOURITE MUSIC? // Depends on mood and ambience.
LAST RECORD OR DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT? // I use Spotify at the moment.
FAVOURITE BOOK? // The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It’s a memoir by journalist, Jean-Domique Bauby, in which he describes his life after suffering a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. I have huge respect for people who despite their difficulties and sufferings can still see the positive in life.
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? // The Rules of Management by Richard Templar.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? // Nature, culture, friends and family.
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // As a child I had several accidents that could have ended badly.
FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // It would not be fair to mention only one destination. The world offers too much to only pick one.
LEAST FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // Haven’t been there yet.
HOW DO YOU RELAX? // On the beach.
WHY DUBAI? // Why not?
ARE YOU SPORTY? // Yes, I like to play all kinds of sports.
BEACH OR DESERT? // Beach.
URBAN OR RURAL? // At the moment, urban.
CATS OR DOGS? // Dogs.
COFFEE OR TEA? // Coffee.
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? // Good people.
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY? // Abuse of power.
YOUR MESSAGE? // Chocolate – A delicious cure for a bad day.