Continuity in management allows scope for what is important in the Group – implementing strategy, innovation and, as a result, sustainable profitable growth. Dieter Weisskopf has been focusing on this for more than 28 years. His working methods are characterized by successful teamwork based on shared values – as a former CFO, most recently as Group CEO and since 2022 as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lindt & Sprüngli Group.
You started in 1995 as Chief Financial Officer of the Lindt & Sprüngli Group and were also responsible for Purchasing and Production. Was this combination of responsibilities the secret to your subsequent success as CEO?
Knowing and helping to shape the processes behind the figures in our company greatly benefited me as CFO and, indeed, even more so as CEO. Focusing only on the numbers would hardly have brought us that far. Along the entire value chain, there are people behind every number – be they cocoa farmers, our employees, our trading partners or the consumers. Appreciating their contributions to the whole as well as our shared values have been and continue to be a solid foundation for our global expansion.
You played a decisive role in shaping Lindt’s journey to becoming a global brand for premium chocolate products. What were the most important “ingredients”?
Success is never the result of an individual achievement, but the successful collaboration of a team that identifies with the brand, the Group and its goals. Establishing a premium brand globally means working hand in hand while making effective use of expertise and diversity of opinions as well as meeting the local needs of consumers – yet without compromising on quality. By entering the US market, we set the benchmark for the global rollout of our successful concept.
as part of Lindt & Sprüngli
You were elected to the Lindt & Sprüngli Board of Directors in spring 2022 and passed on the position of CEO to Adalbert Lechner in the fall of 2022. How did you feel about the change?
Essentially, it is a change of perspective and a focus on strategic foresight, which is not unfamiliar to one as a CEO, but often comes up a little short in day-to-day operations. Of course, I benefit from being able to contribute my many years of experience as CEO and former CFO. I am delighted to be able to support my successor and his team as a sparring partner in my new role, just as I was able to as CEO.
“Great thanks are due to Dieter Weisskopf for continuing our success story on a sustainable basis. I now look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation with him at a strategic level.”
On the Board of Directors, you will now work more closely again with Ernst Tanner, with whom you have long established a successful management team at an operational level. Which advantages do you perceive in this culture of continuity?
Anyone who has been working together in business for as long as we have is aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is precisely this basis of trust that enables an open exchange, which makes change and further development possible. We were able to demonstrate this when I took over from Ernst Tanner and now in the transition from myself to Adalbert Lechner. When relationships within the Group are as well-established as they are between us, it enables us to focus on the essentials – in fact, it makes many things possible, and this is proven by our figures.
From the very beginning, you have been committed to the strategic anchoring of sustainability at Lindt & Sprüngli, initiating and implementing countless new measures. Why has this been so important for you?
As a Group with a history spanning more than 175 years, sustainability is anchored in our DNA, so to speak. Our day-to-day actions have been shaped by our appreciation and responsibility towards people and the environment. Sustainability determines how we manage Lindt & Sprüngli and make it fit for the future. A product such as chocolate requires a commitment along the entire line. We are one of the few major chocolate manufacturers in the world to cover the entire value chain. This is the only way we can meet our high quality standards, from the choice of cocoa beans to the chocolate bar. We provide the proof that sustainability and healthy growth are not mutually exclusive.
What have been the most important stages along the journey so far? And which ones are you particularly proud of?
One milestone was joining the UN Global Compact in 2009. One year later, our first sustainability report was published. I am particularly proud that our supply chain for cocoa beans has been 100% traceable, as well as externally verified, since the end of 2020 thanks to our own “Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program”. We can thus ensure the stable livelihood of 91,000 cocoa farmers and their families in all seven of our countries of origin, as well as sustainable development of the local agriculture. In addition, we launched the “Sustainable Packaging Initiative” in 2020, which aims to make 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, an important milestone on our long-term path to net zero emissions. Our progress in this regard is reflected in our Sustainability Report, which has been prepared for the first time in accordance with the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative.