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The secret diary of the Westfield study tour – Stockholm

by Garry Connell

metro of Barcelona

I’m now back on Aussie soil, I want to continue sharing my memories and learning’s of the last 3 cities – Stockholm, London and Barcelona as each of them houses some retail gems.

Incidentally, while I was away my team signed me up for the Vinnies CEO Sleepout which means I’ll be roughing it out on a sheet of cardboard next Thursday raising money for the homeless. To find out more or to donate click here.

Sweden may only have a population of 9 million but with H&M and IKEA based there in terms of retail they do it well.

In 1901 Josef Sachs founded Swedish department store NK – stating his ambition was to not only bring together the finest products in the world under one roof but to also create a “a cultural and commercial theatre” for his clientèle.  How ironic is it that the cry of today’s retailers to compete with online sales is to “create more theatre within the store”?

H&M certainly needed no introduction, but it was interesting to hear that they own no factories themselves but source product from 750 different suppliers. They employ 150 designers, now sell into 54 markets, have 3300 stores, 116,000 staff, but are planning to open another 375 stores over the next 12 months – mainly in China and USA. Finally their commitment to CSR has made them one of the biggest users of sustainable cotton on the planet.

Speaking of big numbers IKEA is of course the other global Swedish retailer. With 350 stores in 43 countries SKU’s are about 12,000, however 25% of these change each year to ensure there is always something new to attract you to “explore” the store.   Another mind-blowing statistic is that IKEA uses 1% of the worlds timber supply each year – so again CSR is a priority. With 140,000 employees it was refreshing to find that they are ranked among the best 50 companies to work or. They see their future growth in China and Russia – in fact their top 2 stores are in Russia.