Ekornes springs into action
Ekornes ASA is the largest furniture manufacturer in the Nordic region and owns such brand names as Ekornes, Stressless and Svane.
Stressless is one of the world’s most famous furniture brands, while Ekornes and Svane are the best-known brands in the Norwegian furniture market. All Ekornes products are manufactured in Norway and marketed across large parts of the world by a network of national and regional sales companies.
The company’s business concept is to offer products that in terms of both price and design appeal to a broad audience. Additionally, Ekornes aims to develop and manufacture products offering excellent comfort and functionality. Indeed, the company’s vision is to be one of the world’s most attractive suppliers of furniture for the home.
Ekornes ASA is the parent company in the Ekornes Group. The group’s production facilities are organised according to its product areas: Stressless, Ekornes Collection (sofas) and Svane (mattresses).
Selma Kolsrud, who is responsible for the Svane brand, tells us more: “I am the managing director of Ekornes Fetsund, the Ekornes group member responsible for the Svane brand. Svane has been on the market since 1937 and the facility we operate is responsible for producing both mattresses and beanbags.
“Our strength is that we produce all the components ourselves, in-house. Employing 160 people, we are a vertically integrated company, which enjoys an annual turnover of approximately 30 million euros. Svane is a quality, but expensive, product; therefore, we are concentrating our efforts on finding more efficient ways of manufacturing in order to compete with cheap foreign imports. As a result, our facility has become a more automated and efficient machine, which competes with its industry rivals.”
Svane was the first trademark to be registered in the Norwegian furniture industry. First made by Jens E. Ekornes in 1937, the Svane mattresses, which combines mattress springs and breathing capabilities, soon became a success. Since then, Svane has become a trusted brand across Norway.
Ekornes gives priority to the design and development of product concepts that provide functionality and comfort to it customers, and which can be manufactured to a high quality in an efficient manner. Selma adds: “Design and development work at Ekornes is focused on features that promote comfort and provide solutions to practical everyday problems for the user. Product development is very important and will be even more so in the future. The mattress as a concept has not developed that much since the creation of pocket spring mattresses around 50 years ago. This is starting to change and there are more variations on today’s market than there ever have been.”
For this reason, companies will become more focused on developing new, innovative mattresses. Ekornes’ variation on the traditional spring mattress is the IntelliGel Mattress, a revolutionary concept, which Selma tells us more about: “Intelligel is very unique – we have the European licence for the product. It is a significant invention in the mattress world. Developed by a US company, the Intelligel mattress relieves pressure on the body when you sleep, creating comfort and allowing for a better night’s sleep. Unlike a spring, which puts pressure on the body when you sleep – an unpleasant experience – Intelligel collapses, meaning there is increased comfort. This is a problem mattress manufacturers have tried to solve for many years and we now have the answer.”
She continues: “This innovation has been well received by the market. Indeed, we have never had such positive feedback. I think innovations like this will herald a change in the industry. Already we are witnessing an increase in the variety of mattresses available on the market and this diversity will increase as companies begin to focus on developing new products made with different materials.”
In the future Ekornes hopes to remain one of the most attractive and leading brand name suppliers of mattresses for home use, both nationally and internationally. This drive has seen the company expand into new markets, such as Holland and Germany. “International markets will become increasingly important for us,” says Selma. “In the future we will have to focus on our core strengths – manufacturing superior mattresses. There are a lot of cheap imports coming into the market and competition is tough. As our mattresses are fairly expensive and sell to a particular segment in the market, we must focus on producing the mattresses where we have a competitive advantage, such as the Inteligel offering.”
One of the Ekornes’ competitive advantages is its ability to combine efficiency with quality. This is being continuously improved upon, by means of standardised components and designs, which satisfy both the requirements of the market and the need for efficient production. This process of continuous improvement has served the company well in the past and will continue to serve it well in the future.
Products: Mattresses and beanbags
Sites: Fetsund, Norway