The company currently operates 122 stores in Sweden, Norway, Finland and the UK and plans to open six to 10 new stores in the UK in the 2010 to 2011 financial year. In the last two weeks, it has signed three contracts to open stores in Norwich, Cardiff and Doncaster in December.
Separately, more than 900 people applied on Wednesday for just 30 jobs ahead of the November opening of Clas Ohlson’s eighth UK store in Dudley, newspaper Express and Star reported last week.
“We can see a time when we would have 200 stores in the UK,” Clas Ohlson CEO Klas Balkow told the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. “We’ve proved in the Nordic nations that this kind of model works and we’ve been successful. There is a gap in the UK market right now and we think there’s an opportunity for us to take that position.”
Clas Ohlson plans to open 17 to 22 new stores in the 2010 to 2011 financial year. The company will focus exclusively on opening stores in the UK after it has opened 150 stores in the Nordic countries.
Similar to IKEA, Clas Ohlson was founded in a rural village called Insjön in central Sweden’s Dalarna in 1918 as a mail order company. Opening its first shop in 1926, it did not open its second location until 1989 in Stockholm, beginning its retail expansion.
Clas Ohlson is now the largest hardware chain in Sweden with 3,200 employees and distributes 6.2 million mail order catalogues around the world.
The retailer offers a “herring back” promise, giving customers a free jar of pickled herrings in addition to a refund if they find a product they have purchased on sale at a cheaper price elsewhere.