The popular Swedish chain of home furnishings stores, Åhléns, is pulling out of Norway after 17 years of good results. It’s a rare case of a company shutting down not because of hard times, but good ones, and a change in corporate strategy.
The pending pull-out, though, means another wave of job losses at a time when the Norwegian economy is already reeling from the abrupt slowdown in the oil industry. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Åhléns’ 270 employees at around 30 stores in Norway are all likely to be out of work within the next two years, further contributing to Norway’s rising unemployment rate.
“We’ve been in Norway for a long time and this has been a difficult decision, with consequences for our Norwegian colleagues,” Gregg Mowins, head of Åhléns in Sweden, wrote in a press release this week. The company, which opened its first store in Norway in 1998, has seen revenues and earnings rise almost every year and even competitors are surprised Åhléns has decided to close all its stores.
Mowins, however, said the company has decided to focus on its large department stores in Sweden and on electronic trade, so-called e-handel in Scandinavia.