[Nettavisen:] "There is a series of bankruptcies in the fashion industry and other industries in the future. Only traders who will participate in the hours will survive," said Ola Mæle, investor and joint owner of the Follestad fashion chain, to 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 Voice of Europe company and the Match, Vic and Boys of Europe chain concepts.
After a decade of rest, he returned to the industry as the owner of the Follestad chain.
– This will die
He is waiting for clothing stores and other shops in the next few years. Some chains have gone bankrupt, such as PM, Simple Life and Spending, while others put a large number of shops.
– Someone has managed to find a niche and adapt to change, but very many have disappeared. Those who don't have a clear profile or don't bet online will die, said Mæle.
However, he did not believe it was mainly due to competition from online stores.
"E-commerce is a challenge, while the biggest industry problem in recent years is not e-commerce, but excessive shop supply. It's been big, said Mæle, who thinks there are too many clothing stores in Norway now.
"It's not just fashion, it's about equipment, sports, shoes, interior, everything about it. In Norway, we have twice the size of trade per population like other countries in Europe," he said.
In addition to bankruptcy, fashion neighbors believe that large chains will reduce the number of stores.
"I expect big national players to sharply reduce the number of stores in the future. But in the long run, it's only good for us to stay, said Mæle, who is waiting for this shedding to go fast.
– This is like housing construction. If the market goes down, everyone pulls the brakes at once. In two to three years, we may have seen a lot of adaptation in this industry, he said.
He believes the most vulnerable are those who have an unclear profile.
"In many cases, you can also go to Zara and get items that are half price. Those who don't change, they die, he said.
Jeans and clothes
He attracts specialty stores about Yme, which specialize in sneakers as an example of a store that has managed to find a niche. The same applies to established fashion stores such as Retro or Bogart in Trondheim. There are shops with profiles that can remind you of Follestad.
"Niche Follestad is a quality product for adults and young men. We sell cheaply, but at a fair price. With us, the fee is around 5,000 kroner, against 25,000 at Nedre Slottsgate, where you can find luxury shops the truth, "said Mæle.
Follestad is in an interesting niche, men's fashion, which has become the strongest growth segment in recent years.
– Men's fashion has increased, but that's because it comes from zero. Measuring and laughing words.
"People in my father's generation go with hats, coats, clothes, and that's it. Now men are increasingly concerned about clothes. We currently sell very many outdoor jackets from brands such as Uber, Parajumpers and Canada Goose.
He doesn't think growth will slow down with the first.
"There are still new products and new segments, the fashion industry must always have news. I, for so long, have seen that the same thing happens again. That's the way in the fashion business," the same nonsense, new wrappers, "said Mæle, smile again.
Of the 250 shops there are none
When Mæle in the late 1970s began in the fashion industry, street views were dominated by clothing stores, and their own fashion for young people was not found.
This changed when Mæle and four other partners started the Bik Bok group with brands such as Bik Bok, Poco Loco, Poco Lino, and Poco Classico.
At the same time, new competitors are coming, especially low-cost Swedish and Danish chains such as Hennes and Mauritz and Vera Moda. These chains are now present in most markets, while old traders, as previously dominated, disappeared.
"When I started in the clothing industry, we had Samtex, Qualitex, Herrcon, Contex, Texpartner and the Texas chain. It's bored with 100-200 stores in each. Now almost everyone is missing, except Texcon, said Mæle.
Even losing Measle's control over the Bik Book group in the late eighties. Then he started the Voice of Europe and the Match, Vic and the Boys of Europe with the clothing brands like Jean Paul and Henry Choice.
Enter with the coolest
He sold the chain to Color Line entrepreneur Olav Nils Sunde in 2003, but returned to the fashion industry in 2014, when he took over 50 percent of the shares in Follestad.
It happened after Bengt Follestad and his son William took care of an investor in connection with the change of generation
"When I worked in Voice, Follestad was the coolest trader I knew. When I was going to show the collection to Bengt, he already knew exactly what he should have and was not interested in buying anything else. I realized that there was complete control. Then I enter, said Mæle and laugh once more.
Follestad now has 11 stores in Greater Oslo. They have no plans to expand to other parts of Norway, but see the possibility of entering Sweden.
"In Stockholm there is the Ströms shop, which is follestad in Stockholm. They translate 100 million kroner into one shop, so it's clear that it's tempting, but this is a big step for us to go to Sweden. We have to find the right reason," said Mæle.