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Swiss Army Knife Maker Retires 120-Year-Old Wenger Brand

Swiss Army Knives Tap Knife-Less Market to Beat Sales Drop
Sales of Swiss army knives plunged after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, after airlines banned knives on board. Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Wenger SA, a manufacturer of Swiss army knives since 1893, will stop making them, the company’s owner and former rival Victorinox AG said today.

Victorinox, founded in 1884 in the central Swiss town of Ibach, bought Wenger SA in 2005, saving its biggest competitor from bankruptcy. Until now, Victorinox had continued selling the folding knives under both names.

“With this decision we can assign a specific brand to the heritage of the Swiss army knife,” Victorinox said today in an e-mailed statement. “Uniting the two ranges will allow us better to exploit the market’s potential for growth.”

Sales of the gadgets, which Victorinox still supplies exclusively to the Swiss military, plummeted by a third after the 2001 terror attacks prompted tougher security checks for travelers. The business was hit again in 2003 when the army reduced personnel.

The Defense Ministry’s 2008 ban on foreign bids to supply soldiers’ knives helped a recovery, while Victorinox, Europe’s biggest cutlery maker according to its website, also sells products including luxury watches and camping gear.

Victorinox will continue to market some products under the Wenger name and will not cut any jobs, the company said.

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