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A Swiss Army Knife without the knife: Victorinox to offer bladeless products

A Victorinox logo is displayed during Baselworld on March 16, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland.
Harold Cunningham
/
Getty Images
A Victorinox logo is displayed during Baselworld on March 16, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland.

The maker of the Swiss Army Knife says it plans to begin offering pocket tools that don't contain blades.

Victorinox CEO Carl Elsener told the Swiss news outlet Blick last week that rising violence in certain parts of the world has prompted multiple governments to crack down on what types of blades people can brandish in public, possibly making it harder for consumers to carry the company's iconic red multitools.

"In England or certain Asian countries, you are sometimes only allowed to carry a knife if you need it to do your job or go outdoors," Elsener said in an interview translated from German. "In the city, however, when you go to school, to the cinema, go shopping, carrying pocket knives is severely restricted."

The CEO said that's caused the storied manufacturer to begin working on new pocket tool products without blades.

Victorinox said in a follow-up statement to NPR that the new bladeless offerings wouldn't replace its current selection of Swiss Army Knives but rather would "ensure you are best prepared through smart and masterful solutions for any life situation."

Politicians in the United Kingdom have been under heightened pressure lately to address the growing problem of knife crime.

The United Kingdom's Office of National Statistics said in a report that there were around 50,500 offenses "involving a sharp instrument" in England and Wales in the year ending in March 2023. Just a decade earlier, there were around 28,900 such offenses.

Last week an English judge denounced the "plague of knife crime" in sentencing three teenagers to jail in the stabbing death of Mikey Roynon at a birthday party in 2023.

U.K. law only allows people to carry a knife in public if its blade folds and is less than 3 inches long, with certain exceptions for work and cultural and religious reasons, the Guardian reported.

Elsener said Victorinox is working on bladeless pocket tools for cyclists and that it already has one for golfers.

Victorinox founder Karl Elsener created the Swiss Army Knife in 1897, and more than 500 million units had been produced as of 2017.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Corrected: May 8, 2024 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story included a photo of knives sold by Wenger, a former competitor of Victorinox that Victorinox acquired in 2005.
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[Copyright 2024 NPR]