Richard Woodbridge, CEO
Oscar Jacobson was founded in 1903 and is one of Sweden’s most reputable men’s clothing companies. A high level of quality in design, fabrics and fit is combined with timeless elegance and attractive styles for fashion-conscious men of all ages. The company has sales in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the UK. Sales are conducted through approximately 150 retailers, ten proprietary physical flagship stores, three outlets and proprietary e-commerce.
Oscar Jacobson has been part of Mellby Gård since 2018. Mellby Gård’s representatives on the Board of Directors are Thomas Gustafsson (Chairman) and Sven Knutsson.
- Headquarters: Borås
- Sales 2021: SEK 252 million
- Employees (FTE): 75
- Chairman: Thomas Gustafsson
OSCAR JACOBSON’S 2021
SWEDISH PERFECTION SINCE 1903
Swedish men grew tired of sweatpants in the second half of 2021, and the demand for more dressed garments increased. The year turned out to be a good one for the illustrious Oscar Jacobson. Investments made during the tough restriction period have paved the way for further sustainable success.
Oscar Jacobson is a menswear company offering clothing collections for men of all ages. The company originally provided beautifully tailored suits, a heritage held dear by the company for 119 years. The collections have been expanded of late to include more casual pieces to meet men’s outfitting needs for both work and leisure, without compromising on a stylish, modern yet timeless look.
The headline to this text, ‘Swedish perfection since 1903’, equals the brand’s motto. The Swedish aspect includes the distinctive nature of the design and the company’s values. Perfection is the name of the game; from quality and fit to customer service and durability.
“We’re a lifestyle brand for men’s entire wardrobes, and we promise our customers Swedish perfection. Our company is Swedish, with all that this implies in terms of values such as equality, sustainability and human dignity. Our design work is all done in Sweden and we source quality fabrics and have garments made in Europe. Many others have garments sewn in Asia.”
Richard Woodbridge has been the company’s CEO since 2020 and has led the company through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a major impact on sales. Restrictions requiring people to work from home and cancellations of parties and events meant that the demand for smart clothes dropped dramatically. Oscar Jacobson’s sales fell by one-third in 2020 compared with the previous year.
TIRED OF SWEATPANTS
But that said, there was a backlash towards the end of summer 2021. As the restrictions began to be lifted, it was obvious that lots of people were fed up with wearing slippers and sweatpants at home and that they needed to give their wardrobes a makeover. Sales in the autumn ended up being 30 per cent higher than in autumn 2019. Overall, 2021 ended with sales almost 30 per cent up on 2020 and 14 per cent down on 2019. And last but not least, the 2020 loss became a positive result in 2021.
“The pandemic has affected us more than many others in the industry. We were hit harder by the downturn, but this autumn we’ve come back stronger than the industry as a whole.”
He points to the security and stability that comes from having a strong owner in difficult times. It provides a sense of courage and the opportunity to invest even when times are hard. The product range has been extended during the pandemic and it’s been possible to launch a new business system, which will massively facilitate future expansion.
Under the leadership of Richard Woodbridge, Oscar Jacobson has steered sales towards its own channels such as its own physical stores and online shopping. More than half of the company’s sales were made through own channels for the first time in 2021. The company has 15 stores of its own, the biggest of which is at the NK department store in Stockholm. Its area was expanded by 50 per cent during the year.
FOCUSING ON THE SECOND-HAND MARKET
“We mustn’t steer our customers. We have to have a presence in the places where customers in our target group want to be, whether that’s at the premises of an external retailer, in our own store in town, or online. This is why we care for all our channels and let them go hand-in-hand through development.”
One new venture that’s seen major success during the year is the second-hand shop Sustain by Oscar Jacobson in Stockholm. Any owner of an Oscar Jacobson garment can go to this shop and receive 60 per cent of the sale value of the garment as a second-hand item. The shop then launders and repairs the clothes, which are then available for new owners to buy. This is an example of a sustainability initiative that’s also achieved commercial success.
“Our garments are of high quality and last a long time, so this concept is ideal for us. There’s been a surprising amount of interest in both dropping off and buying second-hand clothing. Our next step is to digitalise the concept so that more customers have the opportunity to drop off and buy second-hand items.”
Other new initiatives during the year include the rental of partywear, an outlet store in Barkarby, near Stockholm, and a jeans launch.
“This has been a challenging year, with overcapacity at the outset and capacity shortages at the end. And in the middle of all this, we switched our business system and opened new stores. Ultimately, we’ll come out of this stronger and look to the future with great confidence. I’d like to thank the owner and all our staff for their support and hard work that has brought us to where we are.”
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 2021
Opening of the store at NK Stockholm, with 50 per cent more space.
A fourth outlet store opens at the Stockholm Quality Outlet in Barkarby, and the second-hand store Sustain by Oscar Jacobson opens in Vasastan in Stockholm.
New geographical markets thanks to retailers in the Netherlands (De Bijenkorf) and Ukraine (Tsum).