From Danish HVAC wholesaler to French global building supplies wholesaler

Söderberg & Haak became the primary owner of the Danish listed heating, ventilation and sanitation wholesaler Brødrene Dahl in 1972. The company also had operations in Norway and owned a majority of another larger Swedish heating, ventilation and sanitation wholesaler, Fosselius & Alpen.

Brødrene Dahl was founded in Copenhagen in 1867 by Niels Smith Dahl and William Dahl. Fosselius & Alpen was established in 1944 through the merger of two Gothenburg company, AB Lars Fosselius and H. Alpen AB.

Söderberg & Haak’s heating, ventilation and sanitation unit was transferred to Fosselius & Alpen in 1973. The same thing was done in 1977 with Odelberg & Olson’s heating, ventilation and sanitation operation, which had branches in several cities in Sweden. In 1983, Fosselius & Alpen became  wholly-owned subsidiary of Brødrene Dahl. At the time, Fosselius & Alpen were the largest in Sweden after Ahlsell. Dahl’s sales increased from SEK 1 billion in 1976 to SEK 2.5 billion in 1983 and was the largest heating, ventilation and sanitation firm in Scandinavia.

Three years later, Ratos purchased the remaining 33% of Dahl Invest International’s shares which were listed on the Danish exchange, resulting in Dahl becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ratos. Its headquarters was moved from Copenhagen to Stockholm in 1987.

The 1980s was a difficult period for Dahl due to a low level of construction activity in Scandinavia. In order to ease this situation, Dahl acquired a number of smaller competitors and also implemented internal restructuring.

Sven Söderberg’s son, Per-Olof Söderberg, became managing director of Dahl in 1990. Shortly thereafter the company was hit by the financial crisis. Per-Olof concentrated Dahl’s operations on heating, ventilation and sanitation and closely related products, in part by liquidating the Norwegian electric operations. The American operations were disposed of the following year, making Dahl a purely Scandinavian company. Already by 1993, the company was reporting a profit, with significantly improved results during the following years.

The company acquired wholesaler companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Poland between 1993-98. Through a Finnish acquisition in 1995, Dahl became the only heating, ventilation and sanitation  wholesaler to have operations in four Nordic countries. Fosselius & Alpen changed its name to Dahl Sverige AB in 1997.

Dahl was sold in 2004 to the French firm Saint-Cobain. The company realised an exit gain of SEK 1.4 billion (IRR 35%)