"We’ll provide our customers with the quality they require at prices they can afford" (Clas Ohlson, 1895-1979)
Founded in 1918
When originally founded Clas Ohlson started as a mail order company, the company's founder, Clas Ohlson began by advertising technical handbooks. The Clas Ohlson product range was gradually augmented by technical products such as tools, art materials, boat and furniture designs, as well as cameras and photography equipment.
Clas was a gifted designer and very technically minded. With his flair for technology and business he was always coming up with ideas for increasing his product range. Together with another carpenter from Insjön he designed a whole range of furniture and after only a few years hundreds of thousands of items had been sold. Clas Ohlson was producing designs and kits for crystal and battery operated valve radios as early as 1925. During the inter-war period the company grew considerably and helped spread an interest in technology throughout Sweden.
For 60 years, right until his death in 1979, Clas dedicated himself to his vision, his company and life's work. His son, Tore Ohlson took over as Managing Director 1979-83. Subsequent to this there have been 3 Managing Directors recruited from outside the family; the current Managing Director is Klas Balkow, appointed in 2007.
Insjön, Head office, Distribution Centre and Store
The company has extended its head office operation in recent years. The main office moved to its present location in 1972 and the new central warehouse was opened in 1995 and then extended in 1999 and 2004. A store was soon opened in Insjon to complement the mail order business, which was the company's main trade up until the 1980s.
The store has been extended several times and at present has an area of approx 21, 500 square feet. The Clas Ohlson store in Insjön is visited by over 600 000 people every year, making it one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Dalarna area of Sweden. The store is also the training centre for all new store assistants where they undergo a two week training course. Employees are introduced to the different products categories, store operations, head office facilities and introduced to the Clas Ohlson spirit.
Clas Ohlson expanded its horizons in 1989, when the first store outside Insjön was opened in central Stockholm.
Today, after several extensions, the store's area is close to 23,681 square feet. Since then, over 40 stores have opened in Sweden with further stores due to open this year.
In 1985 Clas Ohlson began trading in Norway. At first the business was mail order only, and then in 1991 the first Norwegian store was opened in Oslo. Since then over 20 stores have opened with more are planned this year to in line with the expansion plans of the business.
In November 2002 the first store was opened in Finland. Since then, over 15 stores have opened with more openings in the pipeline.
The Clas Ohlson catalogue is well known to several generations of Swedes, having been published annually since the company was founded. Today 4 million copies of the catalogue are printed in Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish. Since the beginning of the 1990s the annual catalogue has been supplemented by promotional literature with the latest in telephony, boating and computer ware.