Swedish backpack manufacturer that became a global supplier of outdoor equipment

Haglöfs is one of Sweden’s leading manufacturers of outdoor clothing and equipment. It all began with backpacks in 1914. Haglöfs was acquired by Atle in 1993. Clothing production began two years later, and is currently Haglöfs largest product area. The company also became a shoe manufacturer in 1999 with the purchase of the Norwegian company Alfa Skofabrikk.

Following Ratos acquisition of the company, Haglöfs embarked on a significant expansion outside of the Nordic countries, including the Netherlands, the UK, Germany and Japan. Total sales increased almost 15% annually on average between 2001-10. Sales outside of the Nordic region increased more than tenfold. Operating profit increased from SEK 11 to 77 million. Haglöfs received several international awardsfor its products.

The focus was on brand positioning, to develop a distinct product line and to improve profitability. In 2008, Haglöfs made a strategic decision to integrate sustainability into its business development. Sustainability efforts target the entire supply chain.

Mats Hedblom was managing director of Haglöfs from 1993-2010 and had a very good collaboration with Arne Karlsson during the time that Atle owned the company. It was therefore a welcome reunion when Ratos entered the picture as the new owner. Mats says that the dialog between Haglöfs and Ratos worked very well:

Ratos was a good owner that ’went by the book’. They were structured and clear, but did not place any requirements on us to deliver extremely detailed reports or fill out tons of forms. I benefited greatly by being able to utilise Ratos employees as internal consultants. Haglöfs values also correspond well with those of Ratos: taking a long-term approach, sincerity and being entrepreneurial minded. It was also popular within Ratos to work with Haglöfs since we were involved with outdoor consumer products and were clearly a lifestyle-oriented company.

Mats also explains Ratos structured method for exiting:

Ratos planed an exit for Haglöfs in 2012. However, in spring 2010, the Japanese shoe and clothing company Asics expressed an interest in Haglöfs. Ratos and Haglöfs were able to quickly assemble all the necessary documentation and the purchase was announced on July 12, 2010.

The sale resulted in an exit gain for Ratos of approximately SEK 765 million (IRR 30%). Mats Hedblom is currently an industrial advisor, including for Ratos