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Local News Summary of January, 11th

  • Three quarters of all Ex Libris shops to close - including one at Steinenvorstadt
  • Smoke-free areas to be introduced at Basel SBB
  • Fasnacht committee: There will be bijou-fans in the future too

Three quarters of all Ex Libris shops to close - including one at Steinenvorstadt

Migros-owned media retailer Ex Libris is to cut a third of its staff and close three quarters of its shops to focus on online book sales. The shop at Steinenvorstadt in Basel will close by end of June this year while the branch at Centralbahnplatz will remain open, it has been announced.

Ex Libris currently employs 330 people and has 57 shops. This number will shrink within a year to 215 staff members and 14 shops, a spokesperson for Migros said in a press release issued on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said Ex Libris has worked with the Commercial Association and the employee committee to develop a social plan and support measures for its staff. Ex Libris will also try to provide jobs to the affected employees within the Migros group or elsewhere.

In the press release, Migros justified its decision by saying there had been "structural changes" within the book-selling market. Ex Libris has been affected by tumbling prices prompted by the strong Swiss currency as well as aggressive competition led by international online competitors. In the business year 2017, Ex Libris calculated a 15 per cent drop in turnover. The Ex Libris online shop however increased its sales by 8 per cent.

Due to the ongoing changes in recent years, Ex Libris has cut back on sales in its shops and developed its online business, according to the spokesperson. The media seller has already closed 60 shops since 2010. Meanwhile, the company's online shop makes more than half of the company's profits.

However, measures which have already been implemented have not been enough, according to the spokesperson. The online business could not compensate for the losses made in its shops. By closing the majority of them, Ex Libris hopes the firm can be put back onto more healthy ground

In the future the company wants to focus on its online business. The strategy of running 14 shops along with its online business will be kept in place so that the brand remains present in public places and also to have contact points for customers.

The spokesperson said that Ex Libris would focus its efforts on book sales. Compared to films, music, and games, the sale of books is going well, according to the firm.

Smoke-free areas to be introduced at Basel SBB

A test run of smoke-free zones will start next month at the Basel SBB train station. The station joins others in Bellinzona, Chur, Neuchâtel, Nyon, and Zurich Stadelhofen. The test area is expected to last for several months.

The aim of the experiment is to improve the life and health quality of all customers, as well as the safety and cleanliness of the stations. During peak times, a large number of commuters using the SBB train station can be affected by people around them smoking cigarettes. As well as being potentially harmful to their health, cigarette smoke affects the skin, clothes, and hair of both smokers and non-smokers, a spokesperson for the SBB said.

Cigarette butts are also not being put out properly in ashtrays, which affects the cleanliness of the stations, according to the SBB. With the introduction of no-smoking areas at its train stations, the national railway company hopes to make a positive contribute positively to the environment, the spokesperson said.

Where exactly will the non-smoking areas be at Basel SBB?

In the main hall, the side wings, at the access to platforms 1 to 4 and 14 to 17, on platforms, along the main Passerelle (passageway) and the post-Passerelle (passageway), and the southern entrance to the train station.

Fasnacht committee: There will be bijou-fans in the future too

After only one day of going on sale, the jewellery pendants for this years's Fasnacht were completely sold out across Basel. Last year all the "Bijou-Anhänger" (Fasnacht pendants) were also sold out. Adrian Kunz from the Fasnacht committee said that, due to its success, they will most probably be sold in the Fasnachts in the years to come.

Just after sales began, they were all gone: and after the pendants were sold out after the first day, the Fasnacht committee produced some more. “All those who were queuing on Monday and had to walk away empty-handed can now get one,” said Mr Kunz. The orders were registered at the selling point. The committee has declined to say how many were produced and sold.

The committee has often been asked whether they could produce a pendent. Last year the Fasnachts committee created the first of its kind and it struck an immediate cord with the Fasnacht audience. “Thanks to the successful sales, we will produce and sell the pendant also in the coming years,” Mr Kunz said. Those who lose out this year can get one next year, he said.

The bijou pendant was like a second Christmas for Fasnacht participants. “We didn't know how many we should produce,” Mr Kunz said. They thought it would either be a total flop or a huge success. However, the risk was worth it. Such hotcakes