Stressless- 1934 Production at the J.E. Ekornes Fjærfabrikk starts in 1934, with three employees and machines made in Germany. Furniture manufacturing has just become established in Sunnmøre, and this provides the founder, Jens Ekornes, with his first customers. But it doesn't take long before springs for furniture and mattresses are sold throughout Norway.
Greater challenges are to come. Once the production of springs is established, it is only natural that he should develop an interest in the mattresses themselves as well. And he wants them to be different from the heavy steel-spring mattresses fitted on to wooden frames by means of unsatisfactory lacing. At an exhibition Jens Ekornes sees a British mattress whose interior consisted of a large number of springs linked together on both sides by steel coils. He understands at once that this system could also be used inside ordinary mattresses. As soon as he gets home he starts to try this out together with factory foreman Nils Sjøholt, and before long they are able to present the first Svane® mattress. This is followed quickly by new products, new factories and a steadily increasing workforce. 1935-38 Jens Ekornes presents a new idea for internal springs at the major furniture exhibition in Ålesund. The springs are linked together by steel coils, and can be used inside furniture cushions as well as mattresses. The first Svane® mattresses appear on the market. They are launched in three versions: Eva, Ideal and Rekord. 1946 Jens Ekornes travels to the USA where he works in a mattress factory to learn more about the trade. While he is away, his brothers Martin and Leif look after the business at Ikornnes. Jens Ekornes buys American machinery for the production of upholstered spring mattresses. This makes it possible to rationalise the manufacturing process and consequently sell the Svane® mattress at a more reasonable price. He brings back an expert from the USA who helps set up the new machinery and trains people to operate it. 1947 The factory starts to manufacture the wooden furniture components needed for sofa beds and mattress bases. 1955 Mattress production starts at Ikornnes and, as part of the implementation of the plan for Northern Norway, at Bodø as well. 1959 J.E. Ekornes AS begins to produce foamed plastic. This forms an important element in the manufacture of Ekornes's® own mattresses and furniture, as well as being produced for sale on the open market. 1962 Ekornes Fetsund is established outside Oslo for the manufacture of mattresses and furniture. 1966 Ekornes launches its first collection of lounge furniture. As the first furniture manufacturer in Norway, Ekornes distributes information about its products, entitled 'Svaneinformasjon' [Svane News], to every household in the country. This first success has been followed ever since by the direct mailing of a new Ekornes catalogue every year. For the first time, furniture is launched with a brand name. The Ekornes family acquires the public company Vik & Blindheim Møbelfabrikk AS, and the company name is changed to Svane Møbler AS. 1967 Ekornes acquires the manufacturing rights for Nirva mattresses from DFU, and the manufacturing rights for Paradise mattresses from Steen & Strøm. Production of foamed plastic begins at the Fetsund factory. A factory is built for the manufacture of needle-felt carpets, which are then marketed by Tarkett/Fagertun AS. 1969 Mattress production is moved from Ikornnes to Fetsund. Ekornes launches its first leather-upholstered lounge furniture. 1970 Ekornes changes its policy, and concentrates on a selective sales strategy in the Norwegian market. The number of distributors is reduced from around 1,200 to 200, and the name of the local distributor is printed on the distributed catalogues. Ekornes applies for a patent for Stressless®.
1971 The first Stressless® chairs are launched on the Norwegian market. The success of Stressless® leads to a major expansion and automation of the steel department. Stressless® takes Ekornes into the most expansive chapter of its history. 1972 Ekornes takes over the production of Helly Hansen's foamed plastic mattresses, which are still marketed by Helly Hansen. 1974 Svane Møbler AS starts to cooperate with the Stranda Lenestolfabrikk AS furniture company, and acquires 51% of its shares. In the same year, Jens and Petrine Ekornes give three-quarters of the shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS to a trust called 'The foundation established by Jens Ellingsen Ekornes and his wife Petrine Ekornes to further the aid charity of the Norske Misjonsselskap (The Norwegian Missionary Society)'. 1975 Turnover of the Ekornes Group exceeds NOK 100 million. 1976 The Fetsund plant is destroyed by fire. A new factory is built during the years 1976 to 1978. Svane Møbler AS becomes the chief shareholder in Gjerde Møbler AS. Later in the same year Ekornes Grodås AS is established as the joint chief shareholder with Svane Møbler AS. 1977 The Ekornes Group is now the largest furniture manufacturer in Scandinavia. 1978 Ekornes starts to cooperate on marketing, advertising and design with the A. Huseby & Sønn AS furniture company in Våler. Ekornes/Huseby has a joint sales team and permanent exhibitions in Oslo and Copenhagen. After having run its accounts on a central computer system since 1974, Ekornes enters the computer age for earnest in 1978. An on-line computer system is acquired and set up for order-processing, invoicing, statistics and production control. A permanent office and exhibition space is established at Torggata 5 and 7 in Oslo. 1979 Ekornes starts to cooperate with P.I. Langlos Fabrikker AS, the long-established furniture company in Stranda, and acquires 49% of its shares. Svane Møbler AS is re-registered under the name Ekornes Møbler AS. 1980 Turnover for the Stressless® collection exceeds NOK 100 million, and a new milestone has been reached. Exports show a positive trend. A three-year sales campaign by the export firm Westnofa is started in the USA. Since this time, the USA has been the largest export market for Ekornes. Ekornes moves into its new administration building (2,700 square metres) with show room, conference room, canteen and offices.
1982/83 The ownership structure within the Ekornes Group is altered so that the regulations for corporate taxation apply to all the companies. Ekornes Møbler AS, which is owned by the second generation of the Ekornes family, acquires the A shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS, and additional B shares which belonged to the foundation. These transactions enabled one generation to hand on to the next. Ekornes Møbler AS has now become the owner of over 90% of the shares in J.E. Ekornes Fabrikker AS, Ekornes Grodås AS, Stranda Lenestolfabrikk AS, Gjerde Møbler AS and P.I. Langlos Fabrikker AS. (A minimum of 90% is a condition for corporate taxation). The exhibition space at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen is enlarged from 250 square metres to 700 square metres, and Ekornes opens a European office under the name J.E. Ekornes ApS.
1983 Exports exceed NOK 100 million, and Stressless® number 500,000 is registered. The conditions are now right for the establishment of the Ekornes Ltd sales company in the UK. The parent company's progress in the export market receives attention, and Ekornes is awarded the Export Prize for 1983. It is agreed to merge J.E.Ekornes Fabrikker AS and Ekornes Møbler AS, and the name of the new company is J.E. Ekornes AS. 1984 The company is 50 years old. The event is properly celebrated by both employees and customers. In the course of the spring, 1,500 furniture distributors and sales personnel are invited to the headquarters at Ikornnes to be shown the company's products. Ekornes acquires the bulk of the shares in Velledalen Fabrikker AS, and also purchases 75% of the shares in Ulferts AB in Tibro, Sweden. Production at the Vik department (formerly Ekornes Møbler AS) is moved to the Velledalen factory in Straumgjerde. The acquisition of Ulferts AB leads to a doubling of the Group's production capacity, a wider selection of goods, and access to a complete sales organisation in Sweden and the UK. By the end of the year, the number of employees is doubled, rising from 795 at the end of 1983 to 1,585. 1985 There are now 8 Ekornes factories in Norway, plus Ulferts AB in Sweden. In October 1985, Ekornes also acquires a furniture company in West Germany, Erpo Möbelwerk J.E. Ekornes Gmbh & Co. Ekornes purchases the remaining 25% of the shares in Ulferts AB from Asken AB, and now is sole owner of the company. Ekornes establishes the Oy Ekornes AB sales company in Finland, and the Ekornes Inc. company in the USA. In 1985, Ekornes makes a capital increase by issuing and selling 250,000 ordinary shares and 250,000 preference shares (preference shares are sold by the Ekornes family). This flotation is organised by Sunndal & Co. in collaboration with the banks Sunnmørsbanken AS, Christiania Bank and Kreditkasse AS. It involves a total of NOK 100 million, which produces new equity of NOK 50 million for J.E. Ekornes AS. The financial results for 1985 break the 50-year tradition of an annual net profit, and show a loss for both J.E. Ekornes AS and for the Group. 1986 It is agreed not to pay out a dividend for the financial year 1985. The Board of Directors do however agree to a scrip issue by issuing one bonus share for every two old shares to all new shareholders who purchase shares during the April scrip issue. During the second half of 1986, a plan is approved for consolidating and restructuring the Group, and this is started immediately. The plan involves a reduction in the number of production units, and a significant reduction in the number of employees both in Norway and in Sweden. From now on, upholstered furniture will be manufactured at three factories, Ekornes Erpo, Ulferts Stopp and Ekornes Stranda AS. The last of these will concentrate on the production of upholstered furniture with exposed wooden components, in cooperation with Ekornes Grodås AS. Ulferts Tre will be responsible for the manufacture of cabinets and cupboards, with the associated range of tables and dining room furniture. Production of reclining chairs will be concentrated at Ikornnes, while the manufacture and sale of mattresses and upholstery materials will be based at Fetsund. At the end of 1986, the Group has 1,665 employees. 1987 In October 1987, Managing Director Jens Petter Ekornes relinquishes his post at his own request. His position is then taken by Bent Nilsson. The structural changes approved by the Board of Directors at the end of 1986 are completed in 1987. This has involved the closing down of three production units. Bed manufacturing is moved from Tibro to Fetsund, the two factories at Stranda are combined, and Velledalen Fabrikker AS is closed down. In addition, the factory manager at Ikornnes takes over responsibility for production at Gjerde Fabrikker AS. The number of employees in the Group is reduced by 228. An agreement is made with the company's bankers to convert short-term foreign currency loans to a long-term liability amounting to NOK 110 million. 1988 From the beginning of 1988, sales operations in Sweden become independent of the Swedish production unit. The new company is called Ekornes Sverige AB. The two joinery factories in Tibro are sold and a 'sales/lease back' agreement is made with the upholstery factory in Tibro. In the course of the year a restructuring takes place which means that the operative units will be organised in decentralised profit centres. The main principal behind this is the creation of a production and sales company where the sales company buys in finished goods from the Group's own production companies, as well as other companies in the scheme, for onward sale to distributors in the respective markets. At the end of 1988, the number of employees in the Group was reduced to 1,059 as compared with 1,437 at the end of 1987. 1989 After Ekornes phases out the cabinet and cupboard factory in Tibro, the Group enters into a cooperative arrangement with the Danish board furniture factory Domino AS. Cooperation commences in May/June 1989. Ekornes establishes a sales company in France, Ekornes France S.A.R.L. The new sales company is operative from 1 January 1990. Mattress production in Bodø is phased out. In December, Ekornes acquires a 33% interest in Domino AS. At the end of 1989, the Group employs 979 people. 1990 At the Annual General Meeting in June, the Board of Directors and the Managing Director resign after their proposal for refinancing does not receive majority support. A new Board is appointed, and once again Jens Petter Ekornes assumes the position of Managing Director to take effect immediately. As the result of the poor profit trend indicated for the future, the following refinancing plan is implemented during the course of the second half of the year in collaboration with the major creditors. 1991 Attempts to sell Domino AS in Denmark are unsuccessful, and after debt settlement proceedings the company considers it appropriate to petition bankruptcy in February 1991. Production is transferred to Huseby AS and collaboration with Huseby is resumed. The Group continues to implement the action plan which was prepared in 1990 with the aim of improving the financial results. In February the Board agrees to move the joinery work from Stranda to Grodås. The number of employees is 739 at the end of 1991. 1992 Two capital reductions within J.E. Ekornes AS are carried out during 1992. At the Annual General Meeting on 29 June the share capital of NOK 72,073,880 is written down to NOK 0. This capital reduction is used to cover losses which could not be covered in any other way. The capital reduction is achieved by redeeming the shares. The Ekornes family's subordinated loan of NOK 2,700,000 is converted into shares. After this, the new share capital amounts to NOK 2,052,000. At the company Annual General Meeting on 5 October 1992 it is agreed to write down the share capital of NOK 2,052,000 as well. This capital reduction is also achieved by redeeming the shares. At the same time as this latest capital reduction, 1,026,000 new shares are subscribed in the company, each with a nominal value of NOK 1. These shares constitute the company's share capital as on 31 December 1992. The Ekornes Group shows a profit for the first time since 1984. The number of employees is 786 at the end of year. 1993 The Kreditkassen bank and some members of the Ekornes family become the major shareholders with 70% and 30% interests respectively, via the holding company Ekornes Invest AS. The share capital in J.E. Ekornes AS is increased to NOK 30 million. Subordinated loans amounting to NOK 70 million, and mortgage loans worth NOK 3 million, are written down. A mortgage loan in CBK worth NOK 32 million is converted to a new subordinated loan, while at the same time a new subordinated loan is received from the SND worth NOK 20 million. Equity is increased by NOK 102 million, and is once again positive. The number of employees at the end of the year is 711. 1994 The company is 60 years old. The manufacturing plant in Germany (Erpo) is sold in September. Ekornes now has 4 manufacturing plants, all in Norway. Ekornes Fetsund AS, Fetsund, Manufacture of mattresses and foamed plastic. J.E. Ekornes AS, Ikornnes, Production of Stressless chairs and sofas, together with foamed plastic Ekornes Stranda AS, Stranda, Sofa production Ekornes Grodås AS, Grodås, Manufacture of wood components, mainly subcontracting to Stranda and Ikornnes. The sales companies in Sweden and Denmark are wound down and all the sales and marketing operations are gathered under one umbrella organisation, Ekornes Skandinavia AS, with its office at the main headquarters at Ikornnes. Ekornes Invest AS changes its name to Ekornes AS and becomes the parent company for the Group. Share capital in Ekornes AS is increased to NOK 29,331,980. The shares are owned by Christiania management AS (69.9%) and the Ekornes family (29.9%), together with some minority shareholders (0.2%) who have changed their shares in J.E. Ekornes AS to shares in Ekornes AS. After this, J.E. Ekornes AS is wholly-owned by Ekornes AS. The former Ekornes AS changes its name to Ekornes Fonds AS. The financial results for 1994 are the best in the company's history, showing a profit of NOK 64.4 million after net financial costs, representing an increase of NOK 47.3 million over the results of 1993. The number of employees at the end of the year is 639. 1995 On 10 February 1995, Ekornes AS applies to be listed on the Oslo stock exchange. The application is granted on 1 March 1995. Ekornes AS organises a public increase of capital and share sale. The subscription/purchase period is 6 to 17 March 1995. After this capital increase, the company's share capital amounts to NOK 32,231,980, distributed as 6,446,396 shares at NOK 5. The company's largest shareholder is Christiania Management AS. The first quotation of a share price on the Oslo stock exchange is on 6 April. Ekornes® declares operating profit of NOK 79.6 million, the best in the company's history. 1996 In January Ekornes AS changes name to Ekornes ASA to comply with the alteration in the tax laws in accordance with the EEA agreement. On 1 May, Ekornes takes over the operation of Utgård Mestermøbler AS in Hareid, and rents the premises. Ekornes Hareid AS is established on 25 April 1996 with share capital of NOK 3,000,000. The shares are owned by Ekornes ASA. Ekornes ASA acquires the plant and building sites of Jarnes & Krokå, as well as the Ikofisk factory and Signe Langdal's property. All three properties are in the neighbourhood of the Ikornnes factory. The 60th anniversary of the Svane® mattress is celebrated with the launch of a new mattress collection. Stressless® celebrates its 25th anniversary. On 25 June, Nils Fredrik Drabløs is appointed Managing Director of Ekornes ASA. At the same time, Jens Petter Ekornes is appointed CEO. Production capacity at the Ikornnes factory is significantly increased. Around 80 new jobs are created at Ikornnes. Production capacity at Fetsund is doubled during the course of the autumn, and 40 new jobs are created. The reconstruction and commissioning of the Stranda factory, representing an investment of around NOK 12.0 million, is completed. The Stranda factory stands out as one of the world's most modern furniture factories. A record annual profit is declared for the third year in a row, amounting to NOK 121.8 million (pre-tax). The Management and Board of Directors decide to pay out a bonus, equivalent to half a month's wages, to all the employees. This costs approximately NOK 8 million. The annual turnover for 1996 is NOK 796 million, and the Group employs 914 people. 1997 At the Ordinary General Meeting of Ekornnes ASA on 17 March, it is decided to purchase AS Vestlandske Møbler. The acquisition is made by means of a capital increase offered to the former owners of Vestlandske. After this transaction, the new share capital in Ekornes ASA stands at NOK 33,308,720. The General Meeting resolves that the shares in Ekornes ASA should be split into five, changing from a nominal value of NOK 5 to a nominal value of NOK 1. After this share-splitting, the number of shares is 33,308,720.