Founded in Alingsås in 1954, Lindex today is an international fashion company that has its head office in Gothenburg, Sweden. In this interview RLI speaks with CEO Susanne Ehnbåge about how the business has maintained its market position in difficult times and how it is continuing to look to the future.
Beginning life as a lingerie company, Lindex has grown in the past 66 years to become a worldwide brand that now operates 460 stores in 18 countries. In addition the business has 39 franchised stores which are located in Southern and Eastern European markets.
In terms of online availability, the brand is available in 33 markets and they work with external partners such as ASOS, Zalando, Nelly and Boozt as well as having a presence in China through Tmall.
To help minimise the effects and reduce the consequences that Covid-19 has had on operations, the main focus for Lindex during the past few months has been on its daily operations and in securing their profitability.
“As will have been the case with most companies, we went from one focus one day to then completely changing everything the next. While we had long-term strategies that we were working on, because of the impact of this global pandemic, we have had to pour all our resources into daily operations,” explains Susanne Ehnbåge, CEO of Lindex.
More flexibility has been introduced into the way the company works and Ehnbåge believes this is something that needs to remain during and after the fallout of Covid-19. “I believe now more than ever that information and transparency are key and that we must work in a more cross-functional way than we have in the past. We do not want to have solo thinking where each department works on its own objectives, instead we want everyone to come together to do what is best for the business and we have certainly done that this year.”
Despite the ongoing crisis, the business has continued to expand with the opening of two new stores in the last quarter, with locations successfully opening in Lithuania and Iceland. In terms of expansion in the future, the company is being more conservative such is the ever-changing nature of the Covid-19 virus.
What is clear is that in within their development strategy is the goal to become even more of a global player as it is engrained in their DNA to do so, whether this is through their own stores, through franchise agreements or through digital channels.
Maintaining its presence across multiple international markets, the brand has continued to innovate in new ways, and one of these more recent avenues has been through collaborating with ASOS. Launching with them around 18 months ago, they have become the number one lingerie brand with ASOS which has allowed them to gain new insights with customers that Lindex did not have previously.
“In the UK we currently have two stores, but our collaboration with ASOS has allowed us to gain inroads with another kind of customer we were not accessing through our physical spaces. This insight has led us to broaden our assortment, so we have added products for a younger customer group than we would normally have done and this has been really successful,” Ehnbåge comments.
With the uncertainty that still surrounds the retail sector, Ehnbåge believes that everyone has really opened their eyes and that this needs to remain the case for everything that could and will happen in the future. She feels that for Lindex the long-term target stays the same, but the path to reach it may look and be completely different to what it was just a few months ago.
“It is this Swedish heritage, it is the quality, the sustainability and the Nordic touches in the product that has helped drive the business forward and allowed us to enjoy some success over the years and what will hopefully allow this to continue. Of course, none of this would be possible without the team behind us. They stand strong with the brand and throughout all the difficult changes and adjustments in recent months, they have come through this in a really fantastic way and they have been so engaged and dedicated throughout and for that I’m truly, truly grateful,” concludes Ehnbåge