HUNTING WITH SENSE AND FEELING
Chevalier is a branded hunting wear company in the premium segment. Although the company is one of Mellby Gård’s smaller holdings, the catchphrase “from promising to leading” is highly appropriate here. The target is to double sales through expansion, both geographically and in terms of products.
Chevalier was founded in 1950 and has, since the early 1990s, been owned and operated by well-matched duo Lasse Björkman and Lars Elofsson. Mellby Gård acquired the operations in 2015. Over the past 20 years, Chevalier has been a well-known and established brand for quality-conscious hunters in Sweden and the Nordic region.
“Hunting is a lifestyle that many seek to express through functional clothing with a distinct, classic look. Through the years, our ambition has been to dress hunters from top to toe with the most functional and attractive garments, both for hunting and other activities,” says Lasse Björkman.
However, this target group is not growing at a pace matching Chevalier’s ambitions.
“A few years ago, we were pleased with what we had achieved, a well-known and profitable brand in the Nordic region with Sweden as the principal market. To take the next step, funding was needed exceeding annual cash flow. Mellby Gård has those resources,” continues Lasse Björkman.
Today, Chevalier conducts sales in 30 countries across Europe through distributors and agents, and the expansion has just begun. During the 2017/2018 financial year, the company incurred costs for its future. While sales rose by 7 percent with a slight margin increase, investments in inventory, logistics, new recruits and a new business system impacted earnings. During the year, the company also moved its headquarters from Mölndal to newly renovated and functional premises in Mölnlycke, outside Gothenburg.
Geographically, Chevalier is covering an increasing number of markets including in Eastern Europe, Germany, the UK and Norway. However, small differences in the tonality of what a brand represents can be decisive for how it is perceived in different markets and intensive work on the company’s brand platform is therefore in progress. This emphasizes authenticity, commitment and the company’s view that it has a long-term interaction with fellow hunters rather than just customers. Stylish and functional clothes are designed with discreet but intelligent details and without compromising on quality or fit.
“Internally, we talk of capturing the essence of the hunt and, even today, this is reflected in Chevalier’s design. Our branding work is about is defining a message that is attractive in all markets and where the brand is not yet known. This has consequences for everything from the imagery in marketing to what the logo looks like and where it is placed on garments,” says Sven Knutsson, Chairman of the company.
The expansion will also involve broadening the product range, which includes, on the one hand, clothing and accessories used for daily life but that still include markers of the lifestyle and, on the other hand, products for new customer groups. One example of a new target group is dog owners.
Examples of activities during the year include the company engaging a number of social media influencers targeting a younger audience, and the launch of a special collection designed by Bernadotte & Kylberg.
“This company is not sensitive to economic fluctuations. The Board of Directors’ ambition is for the company’s sales to increase by approximately 15 percent annually. Over five years, this will mean doubling sales with a respectable level profitability for the segment,” says Sven Knutsson.
All restarts are associated with upheaval.. In 2016, Johan Lind, was recruited as the new MD, although he stepped down two years later following disagreement with the Board of Directors regarding the company’s continued development. Lasse Björkman was reinstated as Acting MD and, at the time of writing, recruitment of a new MD is in progress.