Two of Norway’s wealthiest men, financier Bjørn Rune Gjelsten and Color Line owner Olav Nils Sunde, are taking over key portions of the bankrupt sporting goods chain Gresvig in Norway. Gjelsten said he thought it would be “a shame” if such a large and historic company like Gresvig ceased to exist.
Gresvig has been part of Norwegian retailing for more than 100 years, but filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Gjelsten noted, however, that “it’s a fact that there has been an over-establishment of sporting goods stores in Norway,” and that’s cut deeply into their profitability. The real estate developer and industrialist was an earlier owner of Gresvig and now owns the Sport1 chain, one of Gresvig’s biggest competitors.
Around half of Gresvig’s 93 employees at its main warehouse in Askim will lose their jobs. Franchised stores aren’t affected by the bankruptcy, but those owned and operated by Gresvig will be. Business news service E24 reported that 34 Gresvig stores will be shut down, but some of Gresvig’s roughly 2,000 employees will be transferred to other stores.
“Unfortunately it’s not realistic to retain all the stores and support functions in the new structure,” Sunde said in a statement, “but through this we want to secure that as many people as possible still have a job to go to.”
Plans call for Gjelsten and Sunde to each own half of the company taking over Gresvig’s assets. Competition authorities will evaluate whether Gjelsten’s Sport1 stores and the surviving Gresvig stores can be owned by the same company. Gjelsten’s intention is for all the stores to now be called either Sport1 or Intersport, the latter of which has been part of the Gresvig concern in Norway. Gresvig is widely claimed to have fallen victim to over-expansion in recent years, too much retail overhead at a time when online shopping becomes more popular, tough competition in the sporting goods business and, not least, a lack of snow in many portions of Norway that ruined sales of ski equipment.