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Åhléns is a Swedish chain of department stores, located in almost every city in the country, and with several stores in the major cities, including 18 stores in Stockholm alone (March 2007). Åhléns also has business operations in Norway. It is one of Sweden’s leading retailers in a number of fields. Operations are focused on four business areas: Fashion (Mode), Beauty (Skönhet), Homeware (Hem), and Media.
History of Åhléns
At the beginning, Åhléns was a mail order business. It was created in 1899 by Johan Petter Åhlén and Erik Holm, in the little town of Insjön in the province of Dalarna. The name of the company was then “Åhlén och Holm” (Åhlén and Holm).
The first thing the company sold was a royal painting. Over 100 000 copies were sold, and it was very successful. The years went by, and Åhlén and Holm only got bigger. After only 10 years, JP Åhlén had a company with a worth of 1,5 million SEK and 255 employed workers. In 1915, the company was moved to Stockholm. Before he moved the company, JP Åhlén had secured a 7 floor storage room. Half of the employees came with him to Stockholm.
In 1932, JP Åhlén decided that he wanted to expand the business and create a retail trade store with low prices. So, he established the Tempo department store and opened it on Östermalmstorg in Stockholm. JP Åhlén died in 1939, leaving the companies to his oldest son. On the 50th anniversary (1945) of the establishment of Åhléns and Holm, his son could present a company worth 87 million SEK, and with an employment list of more than 2700 workers.
The mail order business was closed down in the 1960s, and a store called Åhléns City was opened in 1964 in the heart of Stockholm. In 1985, all the Tempo department stores got a new name, Åhléns, and the modern day Åhléns was born. In 1988, Åhléns City was sold to Axel Johnson AB, which is owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson.
The progress of Åhléns
The Åhléns stores have now been converted into department stores and moved upmarket, and now concentrate in four business areas:
In 2009, Åhléns City’s sales was summarized to 6,202 million SEK in stores, and the profit was 216 million SEK.
The various department stores located around Sweden have moved one step higher on the ladder and have become the 4th largest group of fashion stores in Sweden. They are continuing to work on climbing higher up the ladder.
Åhléns has established a club for their best consumers. All the members get a card on which they can collect points that they get for every item they buy.