The Ekornes history
Production at the J.E. Ekornes Fjærfabrikk starts in 1934, with three employees and machines made in Germany. Furniture manufacturing has just become established in Sunnmøre, and this provides the founder, Jens Ekornes, with his first customers. But it doesn't take long before springs for furniture and mattresses are sold throughout Norway.
Greater challenges are to come. Once the production of springs is established, it is only natural that he should develop an interest in the mattresses themselves as well. And he wants them to be different from the heavy steel-spring mattresses fitted on to wooden frames by means of unsatisfactory lacing. At an exhibition Jens Ekornes sees a British mattress whose interior consisted of a large number of springs linked together on both sides by steel coils. He understands at once that this system could also be used inside ordinary mattresses. As soon as he gets home he starts to try this out together with factory foreman Nils Sjøholt, and before long they are able to present the first Svane mattress. This is followed quickly by new products, new factories and a steadily increasing workforce.
Jens Ekornes presented the new idea for internal springs at the major furniture exhibition in Ålesund. The springs were linked together by steel coils, and could be used inside furniture cushions as well as mattresses. The first Svane mattresses appeared on the market. They were launched in three versions: Eva, Ideal and Rekord.
Jens Ekornes traveled to the USA where he worked in a mattress factory to learn more about the trade. While he was away, his brothers Martin and Leif looked after the business at Ikornnes. Jens Ekornes then bought American machinery for the production of upholstered spring mattresses. This made it possible to rationalize the manufacturing process and consequently sell the Svane mattress at a more reasonable price. He also brought back an expert from the USA who helped set up the new machinery and train people in its operation.
The factory began to manufacture the wooden furniture components needed for sofa beds and mattress bases.
Mattress production began at Ikornnes, and as part of the implementation of the Northern Norway plan, at Bodø as well.
J.E. Ekornes AS began to produce foamed plastic. This created an important element in the manufacturing process of Ekornes' own mattresses and furniture, as well as production for sale on the open market.
Ekornes Fetsund was established outside Oslo for the manufacture and production of mattresses and furniture.
Ekornes launched its first collection of lounge furniture. As the first furniture manufacturer in Norway, Ekornes distributed information about its products, entitled ‘Svaneinformasjon' (Svane News), to every household in the country. This first success has since been followed by the direct mailing of a new Ekornes catalog every year. For the first time, furniture was launched with a brand name. The Ekornes family acquired the public company Vik & Blindheim Møbelfabrikk AS, which became Svane Møbler AS.
Ekornes acquired the manufacturing rights for Nirva mattresses from DFU, and the manufacturing rights for Paradise mattresses from Steen & Strøm. Production of foamed plastic began at the Fetsund factory. A factory was built for the manufacturing of needle-felt carpets, which were then marketed by Tarkett/Fagertun AS.
Mattress production was moved from Ikornnes to Fetsund. Ekornes launched its first leather-upholstered lounge furniture.
Ekornes changed its policy, and concentrated on a selective sales strategy in the Norwegian market. The number of distributors was reduced from approximately 1,200 to 200, and the name of the local distributors were printed on the catalogs. This year Ekornes also applied for a patent for Stressless®
The first Stressless®
chairs were launched on the Norwegian market. The success of Stressless®
lead to a major expansion and automation of the steel department. This expansion takes Stressless®
and Ekornes into the most expansive chapter of its history.
Ekornes took over the production of Helly Hansen's foamed plastic mattresses, which were still marketed by Helly Hansen.
Svane Møbler AS began to work with the Stranda Lenestolfabrikk AS furniture company, and acquired 51 % of its shares. In the same year, Jens and Petrine Ekornes gave three-quarters of the shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS to a trust called ‘The Foundation' established by Jens Ellingsen Ekornes and his wife Petrine Ekornes to further the aid charity of the Norske Misjonsselskap (The Norwegian Missionary Society).
Revenue of the Ekornes Group exceeded NOK 100 million.
The Fetsund plant was destroyed by a fire. A new factory was built during the years from 1976 to 1978. Svane Møbler AS became the chief shareholder in Gjerde Møbler AS. Later the same year Ekornes Grodås AS was established as the joint chief shareholder with Svane Møbler AS.
The Ekornes Group was now the largest furniture manufacturer in Scandinavia.
Ekornes started developing marketing, advertising and design with the A. Huseby & Sønn AS furniture company in Våler. Ekornes/Huseby had a joint sales team and permanent operations in Oslo and Copenhagen. After having run its accounts on a central computer system since 1974, Ekornes entered the computer age with earnest in 1978. An on-line computer system was acquired and set up for order-processing, invoicing, statistics and production control. Permanent office and exhibition spaces were established; five in Torggata and seven in Oslo.
Ekornes started to work with P.I. Langlos Fabrikker AS, the long-established furniture company in Stranda, and acquired 49% of its shares. Svane Møbler AS was then re-registered under the name Ekornes Møbler AS.
Revenue for the Stressless®
collection exceeded NOK 100 million, and a new milestone was reached. Exports showed a positive trend. A three-year sales campaign by the export firm Westnofa started in the USA. Since that time, the USA has been the largest export market for Ekornes. Ekornes moved into its new administration building (2,700 square metres) with show room, conference room, canteen and offices.
The ownership structure within the Ekornes Group was reorganized so the regulations for corporate taxation applied to all the companies. Ekornes Møbler AS, which is owned by the second generation of the Ekornes family, acquired the A shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS, and additional B shares which belonged to The Foundation. These transactions enabled one generation to hand on to the next. Ekornes Møbler AS became the owner of over 90% of the shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS, Ekornes Grodås AS, Stranda Lenestolfabrikk AS, Gjerde Møbler AS and P.I. Langlos Fabrikker AS. (A minimum of 90% is a condition for corporate taxation). The exhibition space at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen was expanded from 820 square feet to 2,300 square feet, and Ekornes opened a European office under the name J.E. Ekornes ApS.
Exports exceeded NOK 100 million, and Stressless®
number 500,000 was registered. The conditions were now right for the establishment of the Ekornes Ltd sales company in the UK. The parent company's progression in the export market received attention, and Ekornes was awarded the Export Prize for 1983. It was then agreed to merge J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS and Ekornes Møbler AS. The name of this merger company became J.E. Ekornes AS.
The company was now 50 years old. The event was properly celebrated by both employees and customers. In the course of the spring, 1,500 furniture distributors and sales personnel were invited to the headquarters at Ikornnes to be shown the company's products. Ekornes acquired the bulk of the shares in Velledalen Fabrikker AS, and also purchased 75% of the shares in Ulferts AB in Tibro, Sweden. Production at the Vik department (formerly Ekornes Møbler AS) was moved to the Velledalen factory in Straumgjerde. The acquisition of Ulferts AB lead to a doubling of the Group's production capabilities, a wider selection of goods, and access to a complete sales organization in Sweden and the UK. By the end of the year, the number of employees had doubled, rising from 795 to 1,585 by the end of 1983.
By 1985 there were now eight Ekornes factories in Norway, plus Ulferts AB in Sweden. In October 1985, Ekornes also acquired a furniture company in West Germany, Erpo Möbelwerk J.E. Ekornes Gmbh & Co. Ekornes purchased the remaining 25 % of the shares in Ulferts AB from Asken AB, and was now the sole owner of the company. Ekornes established the Oy Ekornes AB sales company in Finland, and the Ekornes Inc. company in the USA. In 1985, Ekornes made a capital increase by issuing and selling 250,000 general shares and 250,000 preferred shares (preferred shares were sold by the Ekornes family). This direction was organized by Sunndal & Co. in collaboration with the banks Sunnmørsbanken AS, Christiania Bank and Kreditkasse AS. It involved a total of NOK 100 million, which produced a new equity of NOK 50 million for J.E. Ekornes AS. The financial results for 1985 broke the 50-year tradition of annual net profit, and showed a loss for both J.E. Ekornes AS and for the Group.
It was agreed not to pay out a dividend for the financial year of 1985. The Board of Directors did however agree to a scrip issue by issuing one bonus share for every two old shares to all new shareholders who purchased shares during the April scrip issue. During the second half of 1986, a plan was approved for consolidating and restructuring the Group, which started immediately. The plan involved a reduction in the number of production units, and a significant reduction in the number of employees both in Norway and in Sweden. From then on, upholstered furniture would be manufactured at three factories, Ekornes Erpo, Ulferts Stopp and Ekornes Stranda AS. The last of these would concentrate on the production of upholstered furniture with exposed wooden components, in cooperation with Ekornes Grodås AS. Ulferts Tre which would be responsible for the manufacturing of cabinets and cupboards, with the associated range of tables and dining room furniture. Production of reclining chairs would be concentrated at Ikornnes, while the manufacture and sale of mattresses and upholstery materials would be based at Fetsund. At the end of 1986, the Group has 1,665 employees.
By October 1987, Managing Director Jens Petter Ekornes relinquished his post of his own volition. His position was then taken by Bent Nilsson. The structural changes approved by the Board of Directors at the end of 1986 were completed in 1987. This involved the closing down of three production units. Bed manufacturing was moved from Tibro to Fetsund, the two factories at Stranda were combined, and Velledalen Fabrikker AS was closed down. In addition, the factory manager at Ikornnes took over responsibility for production at Gjerde Fabrikker AS. The number of employees in the Group was reduced by 228. An agreement was made with the company's bankers to convert short-term foreign currency loans to a long-term liability amounting to NOK 110 million.
From the beginning of 1988, sales operations in Sweden became independent of the Swedish production unit. The new company was called Ekornes Sverige AB. The two joining factories in Tibro were sold and a ‘sales/lease back' agreement was made with the upholstery factory in Tibro. In the course of the year, restructuring took place, which meant that the operative units were organized in decentralized profit centers. The main principal behind this was the creation of a production and sales company. The sales company would buy in finished goods from the Group's own production companies, as well as other companies in the industry, for onward sales to distributors in the respective markets. At the end of 1988, the number of employees in the Group was reduced to 1,059 as compared with 1,437 at the end of 1987.
After Ekornes phased out the cabinet and cupboard factory in Tibro, the Group enterd into a cooperative arrangement with the Danish board furniture factory Domino AS. The merger commenced in May/June 1989. Ekornes established a sales company in France, Ekornes France S.A.R.L. The new sales company became operative January 1, 1990. Mattress production in Bodø is phased out. In December, Ekornes acquired a 33 % interest in Domino AS. At the end of 1989, the Group employed 979 people.
At the Annual General Meeting in June, the Board of Directors and the Managing Director resigned after their proposal for refinancing did not receive majority support. A new Board was appointed, and once again Jens Petter Ekornes assumed the position of Managing Director effective immediately. As the result of the poor profit trend indicated for the future, the following refinancing plan was implemented during the course of the second half of the year in collaboration with the major creditors.
Attempts to sell Domino AS in Denmark were unsuccessful, and after debt settlement proceedings the company considered it appropriate to petition bankruptcy in February 1991. Production was transferred to Huseby AS and collaboration with Huseby was resumed. The Group continued to implement the action plan which was prepared in 1990, with the aim of improving the financial results. In February the Board agreed to move the factory work from Stranda to Grodås. The number of employees was 739 at the end of 1991.
Two capital reductions within J.E. Ekornes AS were carried out during 1992. At the Annual General Meeting on June 29th the share capital of NOK 72,073,880 was written down to NOK 0. This capital reduction was used to cover losses which could not be covered in any other way. The capital reduction was achieved by redeeming the shares. The Ekornes family's subordinated loan of NOK 2,700,000 was converted into shares. After this, the new share capital amounts to NOK 2,052,000. At the company's Annual General Meeting on October 5, 1992 it was agreed to write down the share capital of NOK 2,052,000 as well. This capital reduction was also achieved by redeeming the shares. At the same time as this latest capital reduction, 1,026,000 new shares were issued in the company, each with a nominal value of NOK 1. These shares constituted the company's share capital as of December 31, 1992. The Ekornes Group showed a profit for the first time since 1984. The number of employees was 786 at the end of year.
The Kreditkassen bank and some members of the Ekornes family became the major shareholders with 70 % and 30 % interests respectively, via the holding company Ekornes Invest AS. The share capital in J.E. Ekornes AS was increased to NOK 30 million. Subordinated loans amounting to NOK 70 million, and mortgage loans worth NOK 3 million, were written down. A mortgage loan in CBK worth NOK 32 million was converted to a new subordinated loan, while at the same time a new subordinated loan was received from the SND worth NOK 20 million. Equity was increased by NOK 102 million, and was once again positive. The number of employees at the end of the year was 711.
The company was now 60 years old. The manufacturing plant in Germany (Erpo) was sold in September. Ekornes now had four manufacturing plants, all in Norway.
- Ekornes Fetsund AS, Fetsund, Manufacturer of mattresses and foamed plastic.
- J.E. Ekornes AS, Ikornnes, Production of Stressless chairs and sofas, together with foamed plastic
- Ekornes Stranda AS, Stranda, Sofa production
- Ekornes Grodås AS, Grodås, Manufacturer of wood components, mainly subcontracting to Stranda and Ikornnes.
The sales companies in Sweden and Denmark were wound down and all the sales and marketing operations were gathered under one umbrella organization, Ekornes Skandinavia AS, with its office at the main headquarters at Ikornnes. Ekornes Invest AS changed its name to Ekornes AS and became the parent company for the Group. Share capital in Ekornes AS was increased to NOK 29,331,980. The shares were now owned by Christiania management AS (69.9%) and the Ekornes family (29.9 %), together with some minority shareholders (0.2%) who changed their shares in J.E. Ekornes AS to shares in Ekornes AS. After this, J.E. Ekornes AS was wholly-owned by Ekornes AS.
The former Ekornes AS changed its name to Ekornes Fonds AS. The financial results for 1994 were the best in the company's history, showing a profit of NOK 64.4 million after net financial costs, representing an increase of NOK 47.3 million over the results of 1993. The number of employees at the end of the year was 639.
On February 10, 1995, Ekornes AS applied to be listed on the Oslo stock exchange. The application was granted on March 1, 1995. Ekornes AS organizes a public increase of capital and share sale. The subscription/purchase period was March 6-17th, 1995. After this capital increase, the company's share capital amounts to NOK 32,231,980, distributed as 6,446,396 shares at NOK 5. The company's largest shareholder was Christiania Management AS. The first quotation of a share price on the Oslo stock exchange was by April 6, 1995. Ekornes declared an operating profit of NOK 79.6 million, the best in the company's history.
In January Ekornes AS changed name to Ekornes ASA to comply with the alteration of the tax laws in accordance with the EEA agreement. On May 1, Ekornes took over the operation of Utgård Mestermøbler AS in Hareid, and rented the premises. Ekornes Hareid AS was established on April 25, 1996 with share capital of NOK 3,000,000. The shares were owned by Ekornes ASA. Ekornes ASA acquired the plant and building sites of Jarnes & Krokå, as well as the Ikofisk factory and Signe Langdal's property. All three properties were located in the neighborhood of the Ikornnes factory. The 60th anniversary of the Svane mattress was celebrated with the launch of a new mattress collection. Stressless celebrated its 25th anniversary.
On June 25, Nils Fredrik Drabløs was appointed Managing Director of Ekornes ASA. At the same time, Jens Petter Ekornes was appointed CEO. Production capacity at the Ikornnes factory had now significantly increased. Around 80 new jobs were created at Ikornnes. Production capacity at Fetsund was doubled during the course of the autumn, and 40 additional jobs were created. The reconstruction and commissioning of the Stranda factory, representing an investment of around NOK 12.0 million, was completed. The Stranda factory stood out as one of the world's most contemporary furniture factories. A record annual profit was declared for the third year in a row, amounting to NOK 121.8 million (pre-tax). The Management and Board of Directors decided to pay out a bonus, equivalent to half a month's wages, to all the employees. This cost approximately NOK 8 million. The annual revenue for 1996 is NOK 796 million, and the Group now employed 914 people.
At the Ordinary General Meeting of Ekornnes ASA on March 17th, it was decided to purchase AS Vestlandske Møbler. The acquisition was made by means of a capital increase offered to the former owners of Vestlandske. After this transaction, the new share capital in Ekornes ASA stood at NOK 33,308,720. The General Meeting resolved that the shares in Ekornes ASA should be split into five, changing from a nominal value of NOK 5, to a nominal value of NOK 1. After this share-splitting, the number of shares is 33,308,720.
The annual general meeting on the 24th March approved a bonus scheme for all employees in the Ekornes group. The bonus scheme applies and including 1998, and is approved by the board for one year at a time.
The bonus scheme is paid as a % of the operating margin (EBIT: Net turnover). The operating margin is based on consolidated group accounts, the profit/loss before financial items as a % of the group turnover, but before calculation of the bonus.
Bonus payments after tax will be made in Ekornes shares based on the share value on the Oslo Stock Exchange per 31.12.1998.
The system includes all employees who do not already receive an The payment will be made on the basis of a number of months of employment in 1998. The scheme only applies to those who are employed in Ekornes per 31.12.1998.
The AGM granted the board authority to raise the share capital with a new subscription of shares so that the bonus to employees can be settled in shares. The authority permits an increase in the share capital by a minimum NOK 100.00 and maximum NOK 500,000.00 with the issue of a minimum 100 shares and maximum 500,000 shares, each with a nominal value of NOK 1.00. The issue price can be discounted and will be established by the board. The authorization applies until the 2001 annual general meeting.
The AGM approved a dividend to the shareholders for 1997 of NOK 3.00 per share, a total NOK 99,926,160.00.
The project is divided into the following 6 main phases: 1) Safeguarding against new Y2K problems, 2) Reviewing equipment/systems with potential Y2K-problems, 3) Risk evaluation, 4) Obtaining information on how equipment/systems will tackle Y2K, 5) Planning and performing measures, 6) Testing.
Ekornes launched a new child chair concept called KIDDO at the The product received a brilliant reception from both the dealers and the public.
A new mattress series called Svane Goldline was also launched.
In October Ekornes was awarded the The prize was awarded in the small and medium size business class.
The board approved a gradual extension of the industrial plant at Ikornes.The first building stage is the new foam plastic factory with building starting in May 1999.
Total turnover for the Ekornes group in 1998 was NOK 1,216,233.00. There were 1,154 employees at the end of 1998.
The sofa factories were merged into one company under the name Ekornes Møbler AS with effect from 1st January 1999. This merger concerns the previous companies Ekornes Grodås AS, Ekornes Stranda AS and Ekornes Hareid AS.
The Stressless® Savannah was awarded the prize for the best recliner at the Birmingham furniture expo in January.Ekornes was awarded the 1998 “Norwegian Prize for Productivity” in February. The presentation was made by minister Jon Lilletun at the Norwegian Polytechnic Society in Oslo.
In the USA the Stressless® Senator was chosen by the consumer magazine Consumer Digest as its “Best Buy”.
The factories within Ekornes Møbler AS (Hareid, Stranda and Grodås) were awarded a separate international NS-ISO certificate. The AGM approved a dividend to the shareholders for 1998 of NOK 3.00 per share, a total NOK 100,262,160.
A targeted capital increase for the issue of shares in Ekornes ASA was made to Ekornes employees. The new shares were allocated as a bonus for 1998. The new share capital in Ekornes ASA was subsequently NOK 33,420,910.00.
There were 1,205 employees at the end of 1999.
Ekornes increased turnover in all markets, and group turnover was NOK 1,535.9 million. Ekornes launched new web pages in many languages.
Capacity in the Stressless® factory increased from 900 to 1,100 seats per day over the course of the year.
Construction of the new Stressless® factory began. The factory will allow increased capacity for further growth. Ekornes set new records with regards to turnover and profitability, and introduced a broader product range in the international markets.
The largest individual project was the completion of a new building of approx. 7.000 m2 for foam plastic production.
Ekornes invested NOK 8 million in “Sykkylven’s Bridges”. The bridges are of major importance to Ekornes in many ways. The bridges mean that the Ikornes industrial plant now has a far more central location in relation to the centre of Sykkylven. This means that Ekornes has access to a larger labour market. The bridges have simplified logistics between the two production plants in Sykkylven.
There were 1,323 employees at the end of 2000.
Ekornes increased its turnover in the majority of its markets. Group turnover was NOK 1,709.8 million. The company’s most significant growth was in Central Europe, Southern Europe and the UK.
The vitally important studio system for presenting products in shops underwent a considerably renewal. Many of the markets used TV adverts as an important element for consumer communication.
The Internet is increasingly being used as a communications channel with Ekornes.A significant improvement of the company’s profile program was performed.
Ekornes set new records with regards to turnover and profitability, and introduced a broader product range in the international markets. The bonds with leading retailers were strengthened: There are now 1,500 Ekornes studios worldwide and Stressless exceeded the level of 1,000 seating units per day.
Ekornes opened new showrooms, ”Ekornes Bua”, in Ålesund in March 2001.
Ekornes established a global, legal support system for following and pursuing any breach of Ekornes’ rights.
228,117 Stressless seats, amounting to NOK 1,217 million, were supplied. The product range now comprises 29 chair models and 16 models of the Stressless sofa.
There were 1,339 employees at the end of 2001.
The transfer of foam plastic production to a new plant was performed at the end of the year. The new plant should be considered a development within this product type for both production technology and environmental reasons.
The plant is 7,000 m2. The new foam plastic factory represents an investment in buildings, machinery and equipment of a total approx. NOK 110 million.
Significant funds have now been invested in the Stressless® factory, which in 2002 is one of Norway’s most robotized and automated production businesses with more than 50 robots and automatic processes.
The major investments have been necessary to compensate for the high wage costs in Norway, and they also form the basis for the company’s competitive power and high earnings level.
The work to promote the sofa collection at an international level continued in 2002, which resulted in an increased export share of 33%, up from 28% the year before.
The sofas are now presented as parts of product families that comprise sofas, the Stressless sofa and the Stressless chair.
The sofa collection is manufactured in three specialised plants located in Hornindal (Grodås) in Sogn and Fjordane, and Stranda and Hareid in Møre and Romsdal.
Grodås produces the wood components while Hareid and Stranda perform the upholstery work.
Sofa deliveries in 2002 totalled NOK 196.4 mill.
Svane mattresses are produced at Ekornes Fetsund AS, and the development towards constantly better and more expensive mattresses has also continued in 2002. Ekornes Fetsund AS produces the majority of the semi-manufactured products that form a mattress. The development of a new mattress concept is in progress and we plan to launch the mattress in autumn 2003.
Ekornes launched a new logo.
The annual turnover for 2002 was NOK 1,823.3 mill.There were 1,378 employees in the group at the end of the year.
Turnover in Ekornes exceeds NOK 2 billion. An investigation shows that 20 million people recognize the Stressless® trademark.There were 1,486 employees at the end of the year.
Official opening of the new Stressless® factory. The factory is one of the most advanced furniture factories in the world. The factory is dimensioned for a capacity of 2000 chairs per day.
The sales company and warehouse, Ekornes KK, Tokyo, Japan commenced operation on the 1st August. Ekornes is also establishing a sales company in Poland and starting marketing in Russia.
The annual turnover for 2004 was NOK 2,247.5 mill.There were 1,546 employees in the group at the end of the year.
Ekornes Møbler AS, dept. Grodås started using an extension of 1,700 m2. A new ultra modern staining/coating system was installed in the new premises. The factory has a better layout combined with a higher level of automation. A further NOK 25 million is invested in building and machinery as well as new robots.
Ekornes opened a showroom in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ekornes exhibited its furniture in Spain for the first time at the furniture exhibition in Feria de Muebles, Valencia.
Ekornes entered into a marketing agreement with Macy Home Furnishings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Ekornes Fetsund AS launched many new and exciting mattress innovations at the Ålesund furniture expo.
Jens Petter Ekornes was knighted with the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, First Class. County governor Ottar Befring performed the presentation at the end of year celebrations at the main factory in Ikornes with approx. 1,000 employees and guests present.
The requirement for the percentage of female board members was met with the new appointment of the board to Ekornes ASA.
The annual turnover for 2005 was NOK 2,291.5 mill.There were 1,545 employees in the group at the end of the year.
A new internal transport system was installed at Ekornes Møbler AS, dept. Hareid and J.E. Ekornes AS, dept. Vestlandske. The number of versions produced at the Hareid department was also heavily reduced. 60-70% of the remaining production was of the Paradise sofa model.
Ekornes launched an entirely new model of Stressless®
Jazz at the Ålesund expo, with steel again becoming a visible component.
At the Fetsund factory Svane was the first Norwegian mattress to be awarded the “Swan” environmental mark.
The dealer agreement with the Skeidar furniture chain was terminated. Skeidar was Ekornes’ largest customer seen overall. Marketing in Norway will now occur via the Living and Møbelringen chains supplemented by independent dealers.
Ekornes won an important copyright suit against the Biva chain in Denmark, who marketed copies of Stressless models.
New sales offices were opened in Singapore in January, which were an immediate success. Brazil was also incorporated into Ekornes’ marketing with the creation of sales offices in São Paulo. Ekornes is also establishing part production of upholstery with a car seat manufacturer, Corrotop in Brazil. The first Stressless shop in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta was opened.
The bonus for 2006 was an entire month’s salary.The annual turnover for 2006 was NOK 2,507.3 mill.There were 1,594 employees in the group at the end of the year.
Øyvind Tørlen was employed as vice managing director.
A project for robotizing the seam department was commenced. The aim is to reduce the manual operation time in the seam department by 50% before 2015. The Norwegian Research Council is participating in the project to the sum of just under NOK 9 mill.
A new deep-water quay was taken into use at the factory plant in Ikornes with a quay front of 81 m and approx. 2,000 m2 quay surface with space for 80 containers.
Ekornes opens its first sale of the Stressless in Jakarta, Indonesia, through the mega-warehouse Sogo Plaza Senaya. Stressless® is now available in 12 shops in Taiwan. The first orders in China were also taken through a new shop in Shanghai, which was opened in April with an area of 300 m2.
Ekornes also opened a 460 m2 furniture showroom in Paris following participation in the Paris furniture expo for the last 17 years.
Ekornes conquered Berlin with the opening of a new 570 m2 shop. The House of Comfort is located in central Berlin and is owned by Hübner.
Ekornes started part production of Stressless in Sao Paulo, Brazil for the Brazilian market.
The Tynes department was extended with a new build of 4,600 m2.
The annual turnover for 2007 was NOK 2,573.6 mill.There were 1,643 employees in the group at the end of the year.
Ekornes sold the trademark rights for Sacco. The purchaser is a newly formed company, Sacco of Norway AS, which will transfer production and sale of Sacco to existing dealers.
Stressless® Jazz won the ”Good design label” in March. The good design label is awarded to Norwegian businesses that have collaborated with designers to develop innovative and high quality products.
The upgraded and extended industrial plant at Tynes in Sykkylven started production. The laminating and coating factory has three levels and a total production area of 9,400 m2.
Ekornes launched a new, interactive furniture catalogue.
In May 2008 Ekornes agreed to purchase all shares in Stay AS. The buy out is part of the investment in the contract market for furniture and mattresses in Scandinavia, and at the same time opens up increased investment in markets outside of Scandinavia.
In June Ekornes released an environmental document to help consumers, the press, dealers and others parties gain an insight into the company’s environmental policy.
Sadly the former managing director, group head and board member Jens Petter Ekornes passed away on the 22nd June after a long illness.
In October the new Stressless Blues chair was revealed for the first time at a closed market expo in Ålesund.
The global financial crisis made its mark in the fourth quarter of 2008 in the form of reduced order receipts. In the middle of December Ekornes went over to a four-day week at the six factories in Western Norway. The scheme was based on a voluntary agreement with the employee’s representatives and lasted until February 2009.
The annual turnover for 2008 was NOK 2,670.7 mill. There were 1,632 employees in the group at the end of the year.
On the 8th January Ekornes decided to close down the sofa factory in Stranda.
The production of the fixed-back sofa was transferred to Hareid. The factory at Stranda has manufactured goods for 67 years. This entailed a reduction in capacity of 25% of sofa production. At the same time significant changes were also made at the other factories.
The order situation improved and gradually employees on leave or who had been dismissed returned. New employees were also taken on.
The Ekornes group celebrated its 75th year. The jubilee was marked by an open-air concert in the centre of Sykkylven on the 13th June, where the two artists Tone Damli Aaberge and Åge Aleksandersen with Sambandet played for 3 hours to over 3,000 listeners.
A planned change in leadership occurred at Ekornes on the 1st July when Nils-Fredrik Drabløs handed over the tiller to Øyvind Tørlen. Nils-Fredrik Drabløs had asked to be released from his role. Øyvind Tørlen has been employed as vice managing director since June 2007. Nils-Fredrik Drabløs will continue at Ekornes and will work on development projects in close collaboration with Øyvind Tørlen.
A newly created position as ICT director in Ekornes ASA strengthens the group’s investment in the use of modern information and communication technology.
Ekornes reached yet another corner of the world with a new shop in Huhhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, which is a self-governing region in China. On the 16th August, Ekornes became the first major European furniture company to open a shop in this region.
A decision was made to invest 70 million kroner in a new coatings workshop and shipping building at the main factory in Ikornes. Ekornes has received a dispensation from the building prohibition along Storfjorden. Consideration has been given to flood waves when constructing the buildings. Special foundations mean that the building will not move from the ground, even if the water level in the fjord rises.
Ekornes wants to perform its activities based on a clear social responsibility and is therefore joining the UN’s Global Compact. Over 5,000 businesses in 130 countries have done the same at the present time.
Ekornes launched its new Stressless®
sofa system, ErgoAdapt, at the autumn expo in Ålesund. The sofa system comes in two models, Stressless®
E200 and Stressless®
Ekornes established the Ekornes Australia Pty company, following which it took over the previous importer, Scansin. The takeover will have effect from the 1st September 2009. The new subsidiary is fully operational from 01.01.2010.
A royal visit was made to Ikornes on the 11th November when HRH Crown Princess Mette Marit visited Ekornes to celebrate the Norwegian Furniture Association’s centennial jubilee.
A new innovation was made to this year’s Christmas presents, as the amount that had previously been spent on gifts for employees was split between three charity projects in Brazil, Kenya and the Philippines.
The jubilee year ended with the jubilee book “From Box Springs to Stressless” being given to all Ekornes employees and pensioners. The book was written by the historian Eldar Høidal, Sykkylven, and runs to 457 pages. It relates Ekornes’ 75-year history from 1934-2009.
The annual turnover for 2009 was NOK 2,588 mill.There were 1,527 employees in the group at the end of the year.
Merger between J.E. Ekornes AS and Ekornes Møbler AS. Ekornes comes out top in a survey of Norwegian furniture retailers carried out by Sentor-Gruppen AS.
Olav Kjell Holtan wins Norway’s Chairperson of the Year award for 2010.
Ekornes makes a mark in China with its own stand at the Nordic Lighthouse exhibition in Shanghai. The exhibition included companies from Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland that wished to raise their profile in the Chinese market. Nordic Lighthouse was open to the public from 27 April to 31 October.
Ekornes was a double prizewinner when the British interior design magazine, Interiors Monthly, announced its annual industry awards. Ekornes won the “Best Overseas Furniture Manufacturer” award and the award for “Best Marketing Support”. Ekornes is the first company to win two categories in these awards. Ekornes won its third Stockman Prize, which is awarded by the Norwegian Society of Financial Analysts for the best reporting to the financial markets. Ekornes won the category for small to medium-sized companies.
Over 90 per cent of the Norwegian population recognises the Svane® and Stressless® brand names. According to a recent market survey carried out by Synovate on behalf
of Ekornes, the three brands Ekornes, Stressless® and Svane® are the most wellrecognised of all furniture manufacturers.
Stressless® 40th anniversary
In 2011, the world’s most famous furniture brand celebrated its 40th anniversary. Since its introduction in 1971 more than over 6.5 million Stressless seat units have been sold, and Stressless® has been registered as a trade mark in more than 60 countries. Around 2,500 distributors sell Stressless® products around the globe. This year, Ekornes hosted a record number of visiting distributors, over 900 people.
A new water-based coatings facility went into operation at J.E. Ekornes AS at Ikornnes. In March, Ekornes started using the world’s first robot capable of sewing elastic materials. After several years of research, Norwegian furniture manufacturing reached a technological milestone. At the country’s largest sewing department at J.E. Ekornes AS in Ikornnes, the robot sews covers for Stressless® Jazz and Blues bases.
Ekornes ASA purchased the factory premises at Hareid, which had been leased since Ekornes took over the plant in 1996. In the autumn of 2011, J.E. Ekornes AS established sofa manufacturing facilities in the USA. J.E. Ekornes USA Inc., located in Morganton, North Carolina, had 13 employees when it went into operation.
At the close of the year, J.E. Ekornes AS entered into an Inclusive Working Life Agreement with Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) in Møre & Romsdal. Initially, the agreement will cover the plants in Hareid, Sykkylven and Grodås.
Ekornes overhauled its website and received a total of three million separate hits in 2011. Ekornes also launched two iPad apps; “Investor Relations” and “The Comfort Collection”.
For the third year running, Ekornes UK won the British interior design magazine Interiors Monthly’s award for “Best Marketing Support”. Ekornes came out on top in a Norwegian furniture survey carried out by Sentor-Gruppen AS. A total of 117 furniture chain-store managers were interviewed in the survey. This was the second year running that Ekornes topped the rankings. In Japan, Ekornes received a gold medal for its home-cinema furniture in the Visual Grand Prix 2011. The VGP is a highly respected award in Japan, and is given to audio-visual products that stand out in their individual categories. Ekornes Asia was one of around 50 companies selected for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Hong Kong’s Most Valuable Companies. In its review, the editors accorded Ekornes the accolade “the Wellness Champion”.
Svane® 75th anniversary In 2012, the Svane mattress brand celebrated its 75th anniversary. Svane® was the Norwegian furniture industry’s first brand name.At the request of the Furniture, Wood & Mechanical Industries’ Vocational Training Office in Sykkylven, training manager Karin Håvik Eide drew up a list of the different occupations employed at Ekornes. The list showed over 80 different occupations.
The mattress plant at Fetsund celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Thomas H. Bauer took over as CEO of Ekornes Möbelvertriebs GmbH, Central Europe, on 1 January. Bauer had previously worked at Unilever. Jon-Erlend Alstad took over as CEO of Ekornes Fetsund AS on 1 April. Alstad had previously been sales and marketing manager at Scandinavian Business Seating. Geir Balsnes took over from Geir Ståle Tenfjord as Ekornes’s IT Director on 15 March. Balsnes had previously been Vice President and Executive Partner of Gartner Group, a firm of business analysts.
Ekornes’s new intranet was launched in August. Its objective is to make information about ongoing projects more readily available to employees. The plan is to connect the intranet to the information screens installed at the plants at Sykkylven and Fetsund.
A new international communications concept for Stressless®
was launched at the annual furniture fair in October. Its aim is to strengthen the position Stressless®
holds as the best comfort product through, among other things, a new TV commercial.
Board Chair Olav Kjell Holtan sent the following notice to the stock exchange on 3 December: “Øyvind Tørlen and the board of Ekornes ASA have jointly decided that, with effect from today, Monday, 3 December, Mr Tørlen shall step down as CEO of the company. This decision has been prompted by a difference of views with respect to the Group’s future strategy. Former CEO Nils-Fredrik Drabløs has been appointed acting CEO from today and until a new CEO has been appointed. The search for a new chief executive starts immediately.” This year’s Christmas donation went to voluntary centres in Sykkylven, Hareid and Grodås. Ekornes Fetsund AS chose to give its donation to the Skolestua psychiatric day centre in Fetsund. A total of NOK 525,000 was distributed. Ekornes has given a Christmas donation to a variety of worthy causes since 2009.
Office was launched. In response to persistent demand in the market, particularly in the USA and Central Europe, Stressless is now available with a height-adjustable base and wheels. The Stressless Office is mainly intended for home office use. The new product range has been well received in the market.
Ekornes became Norway’s most highly automated company, with the installation of industrial robot no. 100. Ekornes has 10% of all the industrial robots in existence in Norway.
At the end of March Ekornes Fetsund AS changed its name to Ekornes Beds AS, which it was felt better reflected the company’s identity. The new name works well both in Norway and abroad.
New, automated cutting equipment for hides/upholstery leather went into operation at J.E. Ekornes AS, Vestlandske. The new equipment allows the department to handle all orders for the same colour at the same time, instead of cutting each model separately. The aim is to make more complete use of the hides.
Ekornes launched a new communications concept for Stressless®. Solutions have been launched for in-store studios, general advertising, television commercials and websites. The new concept was launched simultaneously worldwide. It has been well received in all markets, and is helping to raise the profile of the Stressless® brand and reinforce its position as the best product for comfort. A new and improved version of Stressless® Design Online was launched. The program allows customers to put together different combinations of Stressless® products, and place them in a self-defined room in 3D. Customers can also upload a photo of their living room, and furnish it with Stressless® products to get a better idea of how they will look in their own home.
Along with 10 other companies, Ekornes joined the Arena project, whose aim is to develop a regional furniture cluster. The project is organised by Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA). The objective is to strengthen competitiveness by encouraging increased collaboration between commercial companies, educational establishments and public sector agencies.
James Tate was appointed as the new head of operations in the UK/Ireland. Tate worked for Ekornes for many years in the UK, before relocating to Sydney, Australia, where he has been managing director for Ekornes Pty Ltd for the past five years. He was replaced as head of the Australian business by John Candi.
The Stressless® City and Stressless® Metro were launched. These models have a completely new design, with steel/aluminium bases. The models have been very well received by distributors. Delivery is due to start in 2014.
Ekornes introduced a new HSE and quality management system called TQM Enterprise. The system was supplied by TQM Partner AS of Skien, which serves approx. 80,000 users and is Norway’s leading supplier of modular solutions for electronic quality management.
For the fifth year running Ekornes UK won the ‘Best Marketing Support’ award in 2013. It was also named ‘Best Recliner Manufacturer’. The awards came in the Interiors Monthly annual survey, in which 700 furniture distributors, manufacturers and suppliers voted for their favourite companies.
Of this year’s employee Christmas donations, NOK 350,000 went to the Lola Daycare Center on the island of Cebu, Philippines. The centre is run by May-Britt Tynes of Sykkylven. The committee brought forward its decision as a result of the typhoon that devastated the Philippines in 2013. In addition, NOK 75,000 went to Britt Karin Lødøen (Hornindal) for the Mathare project in Kenya’s Mathare slum area, and NOK 50,000 was donated to make it fi nally possible to purchase a vehicle for the transport of wheelchair users in Hornindal, Norway.
Sales revenues in 2013 totalled NOK 2,611 million. At the close of the year, the Group had 1,576 employees.
Board Chair Olav Kjell Holtan dies suddenly on 4 March while on a business trip for Ekornes. Holtan had chaired Ekornes ASA’s board of directors since 1990. At the AGM Kjersti Kleven is elected as the new Board Chair. Olav Holst-Dyrnes is appointed as the new CEO at Ekornes. Ekornes acquires the furniture producer IMG. Stressless® launches a host of new products in the autumn of 2014. Among the innovations is the BalanceAdapt™ system, which allows the chair’s back and seat to adjust automatically as the user’s position changes
The Group turnover exceeds NOK 3 billion. IMG’s sales office in the USA is acquired and incorporated into the Group with effect from 1 January. Ekornes China, which will build up distribution for Stressless® in China, is established in April. IMG launches its new Regal product line during the spring.Ekornes wins the NFA Award for 2014. Ekornes is named “Brand-Builder of the Year 2015”. Ekornes initiates a cost-cutting programme in August. At the annual furniture fair for Scandinavian distributors, Ekornes shows off a substantially expanded product range, with greater flexibility and freedom of choice in the collection. At the same time, a number of new products, including the new LegComfort™ function (integrated footrest), are unveiled. The main Stressless® collection is divided into two equal parts. The six Stressless® factories and Ekornes’s product development department are certified in accordance with ISO 9001 and 14001.
Nora Förisdal Larssen is elected as Ekornes ASA’s new chair at the AGM in May. Ekornes amalgamates production at its Hareid and Vestlandske factories, co-locating sofa production in Sykkylven. The new unit is given the name J.E. Ekornes AS, Dept. Aure. The Stressless® YOU James is voted Product of the Year in the chair category by readers of the popular German interior design magazine Wohnidee.
In January, Stressless® returns to the IMM International Interiors exhibition in Cologne, Germany, for the first time since 2009. IMG also takes part in this exhibition for the first time, and Svane® has its own stand. During the spring, Ekornes initiates a wide-ranging eCommerce project for Stressless® , in response to consumers’ increasing digitalisation. In April, the board of Ekornes ASA proposes changes to its capital structure and dividend policy. A total of NOK 25 per share is paid out in dividends through the year. In addition to the dividend payout, the share rises in value by NOK 12 from the start of 2017 to its close.
The unique sewing robot that was installed in the sewing department at the Ikornnes facility in 2015 passes a major milestone in April: 100,000 pieces sewn. This corresponds to the covers on approx. 6,000 Stressless® chairs. In June, the Group stages a capital markets day, which includes presentations of its updated financial targets. James Tate takes over as president of IMG in July.
Ekornes establishes an overarching management structure encompassing the three business areas Stressless®, IMG and Svane®. Following the change in September, group management comprises Olav Holst Dyrnes (CEO), Trine-Marie Hagen (CFO), James Tate (President IMG) and Øystein Vikingsen Fauske (CHRO and CDO). The new structure establishes a clearer distinction between group management functions and the operational management of the various business areas.
In November, the Stressless range is expanded to include a new product concept: Stressless® Dining. These functional dining chairs, which adapt to the user’s sitting position, prompt a great deal of positive attention.
The Svane® brand celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2017. It currently has a 52 per cent unassisted recognition rate in Norway. The Stressless® Crown chair receives the Consumer’s Digest “Best Buy” award. This is the second time that Stressless® is highlighted as a “Best Buy” by the American magazine. Stressless® comes out on top in the upholstered furniture category in the “Freundin Markedliebling 2017/2018” survey of brand favourites. Freundin is a German popular magazine, with around 1.9 million readers.
On 31 January, the entire Sykkylven district celebrates the removal of road toll collection installations on the Sykkylven Bridge. The collection period was supposed to last until the end of the year, but was shortened when the three largest shareholders in the company that owns the bridge (Sykkylven District Council, Ekornes ASA and Sparebanken Møre) and all the shareholders in Brufinans AS agreed to waive a price compensation totalling NOK 9.7 million.
The new www.stressless.com website is rolled out in several European markets during the year. A dedicated eCommerce department for Stressless® is created. The eCommerce department will be responsible for strengthening the company’s dialogue with end-users, through greater insight in customers’ buying processes and direct digital communications. The stressless@home app is launched. With the help of the app’s augmented reality (AR) technology, you can design your own Stressless® chair and see what it would look like in your own living room.
In competition with 27 other upholstered furniture manufacturers, Stressless® comes in first place in the large-scale German consumer survey, carried out by Deutsches Institut für Service-Qualität and the news channel n-tv. The survey asks which brands, companies and service providers consumers prefer, and publishes a ranking based on the replies of around 60,000 customers.
In April, IMG lays the foundation stone for its new factory in Lithuania. The building will be a production and distribution centre for IMG products destined for the European market.
In May, Signature base no. 150,000 was produced at the Stressless® factory in Tynes. The Signature base was first introduced in October 2014.
On 23 May it is announced that a group of Chinese investors led by Qumei Home Furnishings Group Co Ltd had made an offer to buy the company’s shares. Ekornes’s board of directors recommends the bid. Qumei is a leading Chinese furniture group, which develops, manufactures and sells quality home furnishings and accessories. Qumei was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2015. Qumei’s founder, Ruihai Zhao and his family are the company’s principal shareholders. The company has over 850 stores and production in China. The acquisition is in line with Qumei’s strategy, and is the first step in the company’s international expansion. At the close of the offer period, Qumei has acquired 98.3 per cent of the company’s shares. It is clear it will gain full control of Ekornes. The remaining shares are acquired through a compulsory buyout. Ekornes ASA asks to be delisted from the Oslo Stock Exchange and is told that it will be delisted with effect from Tuesday, 2 October. The Group’s last day as a listed company is Monday, 1 October. Ekornes ASA becomes Ekornes AS.
In December, IMG’s products make their first appearance in Qumei’s stores in the Beijing area.
A new vision and updated values are presented to Ekornes’s employees. The process of developing the company’s vision and values started in the spring of 2017, and many people in the organisation have taken part. Emphasis has been placed on involving employees in all the business areas (Stressless® , Svane® and IMG) in order to come up with a vision and values that everyone can buy into.
Vision: We improve everyday living
Values: Honest, authentic, enthusiastic, adaptable