MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Lindt & Sprüngli

From the establishment of the company to the 1940s

Following a lengthy experience with the confectionery company of Luigi Lanzavecchia, in 1909 Antonio Bulgheroni, who was born in 1866, founded the general partnership company “Longhi Bulgheroni e Comp.” in Varese, along with his partners Giuseppe Longhi and Edoardo Chiesa. The company would be dedicated to the production of candies, sweets and similar items, and would be based in via privata Bernascone until the new building designed by architect Ulisse Stacchini was completed.

In 1911, the company purchased a confectioner’s shop in Varese and opened its own shop upon the premises, but the project was short-lived. The business underwent a significant decline during the First World War, partly due to the rationing of sugar, but returned to flourish in the years that followed. In 1920 Edoardo Chiesa withdrew from the partnership and the company was renamed “Longhi e Bulgheroni”. During this period, Antonio Bulgheroni’s children, Edoardo and Ottorino, began to take part in the company’s activities.

When Giuseppe Longhi died in 1928, his daughters and heirs had little interest in taking part in the enterprise and ceded their shares to Antonio Bulgheroni, who thus became the sole director of the company and renamed it “A. Bulgheroni & Figli”. Upon Antonio Bulgheroni’s death in 1934, the company’s second generation took to the helm: Edoardo, who had been charge of the sales department, was appointed sole director, while Ottorino (know also as “Rino”), who had been in charge of the technical department, became general manager. By this time, the company employed nearly fifty workers and the two brothers were strongly dedicated to renewing its systems and machinery.

With Edoardo and Ottorino Bulgheroni having been called to arms, the Second World War effectively halted the company’s production activities, but did not result in the decommissioning of the production facility itself. In 1943, in fact, the facility was even temporarily rented to the Ricordi di Milano music house, which had been stricken by the war. Once the war was over, the Bulgheroni brothers reorganized the company. Above all, they began considering the possibility of expanding its activities to include chocolate products. Edoardo went to Zurich, where he met Robert Sprüngli, who at the time was the director of the historic company Lindt & Sprüngli (est. 1845). He was soon followed by Ottorino, who went to visit the Swiss company’s production facilities.

The definitive turning point came in 1947: Bulgheroni was granted the exclusive license to produce and sell Lindt & Sprüngli products throughout Italy. That same year, Ottorino Bulgheroni died in a tragic accident. Edoardo, with the assistance of the company’s new technical director Emanuele Bignone and the same Swiss technicians, implemented a challenging production conversion and infrastructural expansion plan for the factory, and equipped the company with an enormous product warehouse as well as a new stock warehouse.

The 1950s and 1960s

The joint stock company “Bulgheroni S.p.A.” was established in 1950. Paolo Bianchi, who had formerly served as the company’s sales director since 1934, was nominated as president, while Edward Bulgheroni was appointed CEO. The company’s candy production was gradually replace by the production of high-quality chocolate products, which offered greater added value and increased technological content.

These products also came to include the famous fruit-flavoured Pascall, which was produced by Bulgheroni based on an agreement undertaken in 1956 with the English company James Pascall. The Italian market, which had always been largely characterized by low per capita chocolate consumption, began to show ample room for growth, mainly in relation to the rather significant demand expressed by the middle to high-income families of Northern Italy. Bulgheroni began to carry greater weight within the competitive context of Italy’s chocolate industry, which included a number of historical incumbents like Perugina, Ferrero, Caffarel and Tobler, as well as various other local producers in the province of Varese itself.

Following the death of Paolo Bianchi in 1956, Edoardo Bulgheroni was appointed company president. By the end of the 1950s, the production facility on Viale Valganna employed a total of 250 employees. The company experienced such enormous success that it increased its company capital from 10 million to 100 million lire in 1961, while just two years later, Swiss nationals Jurg Jegher Rudolph Sprüngli joined the company’s board of directors and advisers. Edoardo’s only son, Antonio, who had been born in Varese in 1943, officially assumed the role of General Director for the company after having obtained his law degree in 1968. As a well-known basketball player for Pallacanestro Varese, Antonio Bulgheroni boasted a number of important contacts with whom he developed a strong team spirit during the day to day management of the company. In 1969, he was co-opted to the company’s board of directors to replace Jegher, who had presented his resignation.

The seventies and eighties

Bulgheroni continued to grow, without ever suffering decreased sales. It was backed by Lindt & Sprüngli, a great company of international success that was dedicated to continuously researching and investing in quality and innovation (in areas such as production and packaging technologies, packaging materials, trade policies and marketing). Although the brand name has now become Lindt, the Bulgheroni name still appears on the packaging of the chocolates produced by the Italian factory.

Swiss know-how is combined with a tradition of superior craftsmanship that’s rooted in the local history. In 1974, Antonio Bulgheroni was appointed CEO of the company. Increases in production led to the necessity for additional space. In 1981, following an additional increase in company capital from 100 to 400 million lire, the company decided to construct a new production facility in Induno Olona. The new factory opened its doors in 1984, the same year in which the company capital was further increased to 4 billion lire.

Including seasonal workers, the company boasted more than 500 employees during this period, in contrast to the 240 that it employed in 1975. The factory’s proximity to the neighbouring Poretti brewery (now Carlsberg) led the seasonal workers to switch between the two factories during their different production peaks (Bulgheroni during the winter, and Poretti during the summer). By this time, 95% of the company’s annual turnover came from the production and sale of chocolate products, while the production of candies and other similar items under the Bulgheroni brand name, with which the company had been founded, was playing an increasingly limited role.

Bulgheroni SpA is Italy’s largest producer of chocolate items for the Easter holidays, as well as for the peak winter months (overlapping the Christmas period), which is also the season in which the company’s advertising campaigns are most prominent.

From the 1990s to the present

When Edoardo Bulgheroni died is 1990, his son Antonio Bulgheroni, who was already acting CEO, also assumed the role of company president. That same year, the company’s head offices were moved from Varese to Olona Induno. A new warehouse was built in Cassano Magnano in 1992, which served as the company’s logistics centre up until the year 2007.

In 1993, Lindt & Sprüngli, which in the meantime had become one of the word’s leading multinational companies in the chocolate industry, purchased Bulgheroni SpA. As a result, the company changed its name to “Lindt & Sprüngli SpA” and permanently ceased its candy production. Antonio Bulgheroni, who by purchasing shares of the parent company had managed in some manner to maintain the continuity of the old family business, was appointed president and CEO of the new company. The Induno Olona factory, ??with its 650 employees, produced more than 10% of the Swiss Group’s global sales, and in 1997 the group went on to purchase Caffarel SpA in Luserna S. Giovanni (TO - Italy), of which Antonio Bulgheroni was also appointed president.

In keeping with the holding company’s business strategies, and in addition to its specialized and single-brand stores scattered throughout Italy, product sales became increasingly focused upon the modern system of large scale retail trade. Antonio Bulgheroni currently holds various positions within a number of the area’s economic and cultural institutions. He was chairman of the Union of Industrialists for the Province of Varese from 1991 to 1995, a member of the Confindustria council from 1991 to 1999 and president of the Carlo Cattaneo-Liuc University in Castellanza from 1993 to 2000. He was also a major shareholder, and served as president and director, for the Pallacanestra Varese SpA basketball organization from 1992 to 2000.

In 2007, the company opened a new logistics centre in Magenta, halfway between Lombardy and Piedmont on one of the main traffic routes, which is used for the distribution of all Lindt and Caffarel products. Lindt & Sprüngli currently employs more than 750 workers throughout Italy. Today, Antonio Bulgheroni sits on the Board of Directors for Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG of Zurich and hopes that one of his children, all of whom own businesses that are associated with Lindt chocolates, will one day take his place.