Swedes to clean up Stockmann

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Per Thelin is appointed as CEO of Stockmann to make another company turnaround.
But is he future man when it comes to getting the multichannel project right?
First thing to do together with another Swede, Ingvar Larsson, is to mount down about half of the Seppälä-chain.

Thelin notes in Finnish media that he has worked with companies that require change, and that he is proud to now have been elected president in Stockmann.
”My first task will be to get to know the company and my colleagues. We will accomplish change together”, Per Thelin tells Hufvudstadsbladet.
”It will be a task for management and the board to find out which methods we will use to make a real turnaround. I will come back to this,” he later told Yle.
The problems are defined in three pieces: Seppälä, Stockmann’s customer service and the integration of the future digital offer.

Much of Stockmann’s loss (almost 20 million EUR so far this year) is due to fashion chain Seppälä’s sales. The upcoming negotiations could lead to up to 50 stores in Finland will be closed and 380 jobs cut off. Work is underway to close the chain’s business in Russia and to leave Lithuania. In Finland and Estonia it will be cut down considerably.

Where the closures in Finland takes place is not clear yet. According to Ingvar Larsson, the Lindex-CEO who now also is the director of the fashion divison after the recent re-organization in the management, there is a clear difference between the business who do well and those who don’t. Good performances are found both in major cities and smaller towns.

”Seppälä has many stores, so it will probably be a lot left after what’s happening now, about 100 units”, Chairman Kaj-Gustaf Bergh said to Yle.

In the department stores, the idea is to make a difference by putting the customer first. Department store group has been criticized for its customer service.
”We take the criticism we received seriously and all actions we take now is to regain the confidence we’ve always had at Stockmann for our customer service”, Kaj-Gustaf Bergh says.

Per Thelin has an MBA and has worked in the retail industry since 1970, including as CEO of Biltema, Venue Retail Group and Inflight Service Group. Currently he works as a consultant and has been an adviser to Atria and the Electrolux Retail.
But there is also a question of how short-sighted his appointment is since he has left the company when the turnaround is made.
”There is always one plan for a shorter time and one for a long time. They go hand in hand”, Per Thelin responds.
In Yle, the consultant Mika Rovanovic asked whether he is a cleaner or a builder and had doubts the new CEO’s skills when it comes to digital offer.