Trimbach near Olten in 1905 was certainly the wrong place and the wrong time to open a bakery. Due to the lack of demand, Friedrich Johann Wernli and his two sons gave up on making a go of their confectionery after three years.
A short time later, son Fritz put all his savings into reopening his father's business at the age of just 17.
1926: Oven for new products
The Wernli brothers transformed their confectionery into the first partially-automated biscuit factory in Switzerland. The gas-fired chain ovens were primarily suitable for dry biscuits such as petit beurre.
Just one year later, the first gas-fired wafer maker worldwide was installed at the Wernli factory. This marked the birth of the Jura Waffel, production of which would begin one year later.
The symbol of the three Jura pine trees, taken from the Olten city coat of arms, is still present today on every Jura Waffel.
1935: Technical advances
The chain ovens baked biscuits on a running conveyor belt that ran too fast for even the fastest packagers. In cooperation with SIG in Neuhausen, a packing line was created especially for Wernli, which was later sold throughout the world under the name GRA.
Shortly thereafter, “Knuspergold”, 27 thin delicate mini wafers, debuted for only 20 centimes.
For the first time foods were kept fresh in airtight foil. This small gift had lasting value and declared to all the world: good ideas are worth their weight in gold.
1948: Tough competition
In the Swiss market, Wernli's competitor Oulevay from Morges emerged as the winner following the Second World War. Oulevay invested in new facilities which cost the company a fortune and almost cost the Wernli brothers their livelihood. The new low-priced “Oulevay Cookies” flooded the Swiss market. Wernli needed ideas.
It was during this time that the red Wernli logo was created, which is on still on every packet today as a seal of quality. Since 1948, this lettering has been the face of the brand.
1958: A classic
In 1958, Wernli created Japonais, a biscuit that surpassed all previous ones. This fine meringue biscuit with a hazelnut crème filling and delicate almond slivers is based on an old, much loved patisserie recipe and was only available in the best confectioners up to this time.
Another classic was born.
1965: The breakthrough
While television was still in its infancy and the Swiss population followed the proceedings spellbound in black-and-white in restaurants and coffee houses, Wernli was the first company in the sector with a television commercial.
The success was overwhelming. A year prior to this, Wernli launched another classic. Borrowing from the beloved snack consisting of bread with a piece of chocolate, Fritz Wernli created the best-loved biscuit in Switzerland today: Choco Petit Beurre.
First Wernli-Spot (1965)
1972: Rivals united
It is said that Fritz Wernli Jr. and his rival, Jean-Pierre Oulevay from Morges, met by chance on the Aare bridge in Olten.
This meeting made history for both companies; a collaboration was sealed by a handshake while still on the bridge, and the rivals joined forces in 1972 as Interbiscuit Holding.
1982: Market leader
At the end of the 1970s, Wernli produced a number of commercials for Swiss television which were characterised by a particularly light-hearted and dialogue-oriented style.
It was during this time that the famous saying “I just love Wernli” was created; brand awareness and support rocketed to almost 100% practically overnight.
This ultimately led to Wernli becoming the market leader in 1982.
Jura Waffel – I just like Wernli
1990: Wernli-Guide & Fresh from the bakery oven
1992: Concentrating strengths
The most modern biscuit factory in Europe was built in Trimbach in 1992.
Since then, the company has had a focused and efficient production system, which has enabled Wernli to consolidate its position as market leader.
A short time later, Oulevay in Morges closed its own production operations. Six years later, the brand itself was sold to Wernli. The leading Oulevay products (e.g. Chocoly and Florentin) became part of the Wernli product range.
2001: The latest original creation from Wernli
Petit flirt – The latest original creation from Wernli
2002: Fist-fight at the ladies' coffee morning
2003: Solothurn Entrepreneurship Award
In 2003, Wernli was awarded the Solothurn Entrepreneurship Award.
The jury decided in favour of our company, which is rich in tradition, because we have continually reasserted ourselves in highly competitive markets for over a century, not only through persistence but also through innovation.
2008: Acquisition by HUG AG
In May 2008, the family-run company HUG, founded in 1877 in Lucerne, took over Wernli. HUG is now in its fourth generation, managed by Andreas and Werner Hug, and gained the previously-missing "chocolate branch" through the acquisition.
The Wernli brand is maintained. The joint operation should secure the continued success of both brands.
2011: High up above the rest.