Läderach has seen some success in their US store plans recently. We’ve covered their progress previously since they first opened in the US in 2019. Then when Godiva exited the US market, it was Läderach which saw the opportunity for expansion.

Then earlier this year, in a bold move, the company signed a deal with Simon Property Group to open 15 stores in Malls across the country.

Recently, however, they got the wrong kind of publicity as the owners Christian values were put under a spotlight.

Activists noted that the family sits on the board of a Christian movement, Christianity for Today, with anti-gay and anti-abortion views. Jürg Läderach and his son Johannes Läderach are both active in the evangelical organisation, which reportedly lobbies against womens right to choose as well as same sex marriage.

You may believe that stance would have caused activists in the US to take action, especially the ones in San Francisco around the Bay area where the LGBTQ community is very active. However, it was back at home in Switzerland that the company found themselves at the centre of controversy. 

Activists protested outside stores and called for a Boycott. The noise may have put off Swiss Airlines who decided not to renew a contract with the company to use their chocolate on their flights. 

CEO, Johannes Läderach, defended his position saying his beliefs have nothing to do with the company, nor how it treats their employees. In 2020, Johannes Läderach told a Swiss newspaper:

I understand it if people value a woman’s right to choose more than an unborn child’s right to life. But I ask for understanding for my opinion, I’m allowed to have a different opinion.

CEO, Johannes Läderach

This is a story that will no doubt be polarising for different groups. It’s a shame that society seems to be moving toward extreme positions. I agree with Mr Läderach in that different opinions should be listened to and respected.

However, if, as activists claim, the family is involved in lobbying to have their beliefs more widely represented and adopted in legislation, then this moves beyond a personal matter. As much as I’d welcome a debate over a cup of tea, I do not agree with the use of money to exert power, and to force your opinion on others through policy-change that the rest of society may have no choice but to adopt.

But extremism isn’t exclusive to religion, and some minorities, including the LGBTQ community have also reverted to extreme measures which infringe upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various adoptions such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights. One recent example was the Sussex University professor who was hounded out of her job by Trans activists who took issue with her statement that some women may feel uncomfortable with a person without female genitalia using the women’s bathrooms. 

Minority groups need protection to ensure their right to a ‘peaceful life’ is maintained, but increasingly so does the right to hold an opinion, as long as a larger influence or power is not used to distort the natural course of a debate.

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