[Nettavisen:] "There are a lot of bankruptcies in the fashion industry and other industries in the future," said Ola Mæle, an investor and co-owner of the fashion chain Follestad for Nettavisen.
Mælle has been in the Norwegian fashion industry for almost 40 years. First as one of the founders behind Bik Bok and Poco Loco. Then with the company Voice of Europe and the concepts of the chain Match, Vic and Boys of Europe.
After a decade of rest, he is back in the industry as owner of the Follestad chain.
– These will die
He is expecting a sharp drop in clothing stores and other stores in the next few years. Several chains have gone bankrupt, such as PM, Simpler Life and Spent, while others knocked down a large number of stores.
– Someone has managed to find a niche and adapt to change, but many disappear. Those who do not have a clear profile or do not bet online will die, says Mæle.
However, he does not believe it is mainly due to the competition of online stores.
"E-commerce is a challenge, while the biggest problem in the industry in recent years has not been e-commerce, but the overcomplexity of the stores. It has been huge, says Mæle, that there are currently many clothing stores in Norway.
"It's not just fashion, it's about appliances, sports, shoes, interiors, it's all about that. In Norway we have twice as much area of trade per inhabitant as other European countries," he says.
In addition to bankruptcies, the fashion neighbor believes that the big chains will reduce the number of stores.
"I hope the big national players will drastically reduce the number of stores in the future. But in the long term, it is good that we remain, says Mæle, expecting this spill to be rapid.
– It's like housing construction. If the market falls, every man pulls the brake at once. In two or three years, we've probably seen a major adjustment in the industry, he says.
He believes that the most vulnerable are those who have an unclear profile.
"In many cases, you can also go to Zara and get the corresponding items for half the price. Those who do not change die, he says.
Jeans and dress
He designs specialized stores on Yme, which specializes in sneakers as examples of shops that have managed to find a niche. The same applies to established fashion stores such as Retro or Bogart in Trondheim. There are shops with a profile that can remind you of the Follestad.
"Follestad's niche is quality products for both adults and young men.We sell it at low prices but at a fair price.With us, the process costs about 5,000 kronor, against 25,000 at Nedre Slottsgate, where you can find the true luxury stores, "says Mæle.
Follestad is in an attractive niche, that is, men's fashion, which has been the fastest growing segment in recent years.
– Men's fashion has increased, but that's because it comes from scratch. says measuring and laughing.
"The men of my father's generation were in a hat, a coat, a dress, and that was all." Now the men have become more concerned about clothing.
He does not think growth will slow down with the former.
"There are still new products and new segments, the fashion industry should always have news. I, who have been with so much time, see that the same thing happens again.This is how it is in the fashion business," same shit, new package " , says Mæle, smiling again.
From 250 stores to none
When Mæle in the late 1970s started in the fashion industry, the street scene was dominated by clothing stores, and her own fashion for the young was not found.
It changed when Mæle and four other members started the Bik Bok group with brands like Bik Bok, Poco Loco, Poco Lino and Poco Classico.
At the same time, new competitors appeared, especially the Swedish and Danish low-cost chains such as Hennes, Mauritz and Vera Moda. These chains are now present in most markets, while former traders, as previously dominated, have disappeared.
"When I started in the garment industry, we had Samtex, Qualitex, Herrcon, Contex, Texpartner and the Teksil chain, and this was bored with 100-200 stores in each.
I even lost control of Measurement over the Bik Book group in the late eighties. Then he started the Voice of Europe and the concepts of the chain Match, Vic and Boys of Europe, with clothing brands like Jean Paul and Henry Choice.
He entered with the coolest
He sold the chains to Color Line entrepreneur Olav Nils Sunde in 2003, but returned to the fashion industry in 2014 when he took over 50% of Follestad's stock.
It happened after Bengt Follestad and his son William took care of an investor in connection with the change of generations.
"When I worked on the Voice, Follestad was the best merchant I knew." When I was going to show the collection to Bengt, he already knew exactly what he should be and was not interested in buying anything else, I realized there was full control, said Mæle and laughed again.
Follestad now has 11 stores in Greater Oslo. They have no plans to expand to other parts of Norway, but look to the possibility of entering Sweden.
"In Stockholm there's the Ströms store, which is a follestad in Stockholm, they translate 100 million kronor into a store, so of course it's tempting, but it's a big step for us to get into Sweden. says Mæle.