[Nettavisen:] "There are a number of bankruptcies in the fashion and other industries in the future. Only the merchants who have been tracking within an hour will survive," says Ola Mæle, an investor and co-owner of the Follestad fashion chain, to Nettavisen.
Mælle has been in the Norwegian clothing industry for almost 40 years. First, as one of the founders of Bik Bok and Poco Loco. Then with Voice of Europe and Match chain concepts, Vic and Boys of Europe.
After a decade of rest, he returns to the industry as the owner of the Follestad network.
– They will die
It is waiting for rapid releases of clothing stores and other stores over the next few years. Several networks have already gone bankrupt, like PM, Simpler Life and Spent, while others have postponed a large number of stores.
– Someone managed to find a niche and adapt to change, but a lot disappears. Those who do not have a clear profile or do not bid online will die, says Mele.
However, he does not believe that it is primarily due to the competition from online stores.
"E-commerce is a challenge, and the industry's biggest problem in recent years has not been e-commerce, but excess stores." That was huge, says Mele, who thinks there are too many clothing stores in Norway.
"It's not just fashion, it's devices, sports, shoes, interior, that's all. In Norway, we have twice as much retail space per capita as in other European countries," he says.
In addition to bankruptcy, the fashion neighbor believes that large chains will reduce the number of stores.
"I expect great national players to significantly reduce the number of stores in the future." But in the long run it's good for us to stay, says Mele, who is waiting for this haste to go fast.
– It's like housing. If the market goes down, every man will turn on the brake immediately. Within two to three years, we've probably seen a lot of adaptation in the industry, he says.
He thinks those who have a vague profile are the most vulnerable.
"In many cases, you can go to Zara as well and get the right items for half the price." Those who do not change are dying, he says.
Jeans and dress
He creates specialist stores about Yme, which specializes in sneakers as an example of stores that managed to find a niche. The same applies to well-known fashion stores, such as Retro and Bogart in Trondheim. There are profile stores that can remind you of Follestad.
"Nicle Follestad is high quality products for adults and young men, we sell at low prices, but at a fair price, with a suit costing around 5,000 crowns, compared to 25,000 at Nedre Slottsgate, where you can find real luxury stores," he says. Mael.
Follestad is located in an attractive niche, namely in men's fashion, which is the segment with the strongest growth in recent years.
– Men's fashion has grown, but this is because it comes from scratch. says Measurement and Laughter.
"Men in my father's generation went into hat, coat, dress, and that's all." Now, men are more interested in clothes, and now we sell a lot of jackets from outside brands such as Uber, Parajumpers and Canada Goose.
He does not think that growth will slow down with the first.
"There are still new products and new segments, the fashion industry must always have news." I, who have been around for so long, see that it's happening again. "That's the fashion industry," same shit, new packaging, "says Mele , smiling again.
From 250 stores to none
When Mele entered the fashion industry in the late 1970s, clothing stores dominated the street scene, and their fashion for young people was not found.
It changed when Mæle and four other partners founded the Bik Bok group with brands such as Bik Bok, Poco Loco, Poco Lino and Poco Classico.
At the same time, new competitors appeared, especially Swedish and Danish low-cost chains, such as Hennes and Mauritz and Vera Moda. These chains are now present in most markets, while former merchants, as previously dominated, have disappeared.
"When I started in the apparel industry, we had Samtex, Qualitex, Herrcon, Contex, Texpartner and Teksil. It got bored with 100-200 stores. Now, almost everyone has disappeared, except Texcon, says Mæle.
He even lost control of the orders over the Bik Book group in the late eighties. He then founded Voice of Europe and the concepts of Match, Vic and Boys of Europe chains with clothing brands such as Jean Paul and Henry Choice.
I came in with the coolest one
He sold the chains of the Color Line trader, Olav Nils Sunde in 2003, but he returned in the fashion industry in 2014, when he took over 50 percent of shares in Follestad.
It happened after Bengt Follestad and his son William took care of the investor in connection with the change of generations.
"When I was working at Voice, Follestad was the coolest buyer I knew about. When I was going to show the Bengt collection, he knew exactly what he should have and was not interested in buying anything else, and I realized that he was in full control. Mele and laugh again.
Follestad now has 11 stores in Greater Oslo. They do not plan to expand to other parts of Norway, but they are looking at the possibilities of entering Sweden.
"There is a Ströms store in Stockholm, which is a follestad in Stockholm, which translates 100 million kroner into one store, so it is obvious that it is tempting, but it is a big step for us to go to Sweden. , says Mele.