Experimenting Boldly and Moving Out into the World

New owners have blown the dust off of Finlayson after the brand had dozed off already. They believe in agility, customer familiarity and values that go back nearly 200 years.

Jukka Kurttila

Under the leadership of Jukka KurttilaFinlayson decided to make a real investment in the Christmas season. It leased premises, hired 60 fixed term employees and opened 16 pop-up shops around Finland and in Stockholm.

The pop-up shop is an example of the kind of agility, to which this conventional household textile brand is currently committed. This new age for Finlayson began a year and a half ago, when three marketing professionals, Jukka Kurttila, Risto Voutilainen and Petri Pesonen, bought the company.

"Finnish companies are often lacking in speed and agility," observes Mr. Kurttila. "We've changed partly into an ad hoc organisation; grabbing opportunities as they come, we don't plan forever, but rather act."​

The new Tom of Finland products have brought the company huge visibility in the world press, but they are also based on older values of the company. In renewing the brand, the owners looked back 180 years to when Finlayson transferred into the ownership of the Nottbeck family with great subsequent success.

"The Nottbecks were international, open and broad-minded. That's why even now, Finlayson is bold and experimental, demonstrating its interest in the world," explains Mr. Kurttila.

Another example of swiftness is Last May Day's campaign where a Tom of Finland character appeared in sheets wearing the Finnish student's cap.
"When we came up with that idea, we had the product in the shop, everything in order online and a front page ad in "Helsingin Sanomat" within a week and two days, at the right moment for customers to acquire graduation presents," Mr. Kurttila recalls.

At Finlayson, the online shop and physical shops are growing shoulder to shoulder. The online shop is already bigger than the company's 11 retail shops.

"Generally speaking, an online shop will grow faster than a physical shop, but with us the pace seems to be the same," observes Mr. Kurttila. "This year has seen growth at a rate of a little over 20 percent while the market has dwindled by 10 percent."

Finlayson is also prospecting growth in the international markets especially in the Nordic countries and certain Asian countries. According to Mr. Kurttila, opening an online shop is easy, but not enough in itself, however.

"The shop has to be well known, it has to have a good selection of goods and it has to be marketed to people," he says. "For example, a dot com ending won't work; you need a country-specific address for search engines to make you visible."

Finlayson's export shipments are processed by PostNord, and the cooperation is expanding to online shop transports as well. Through PostNord, shipments also reach the furthest countries.

"The cooperation has worked so well that we'd like to look into possibilities of expanding it," says Jarmo Lehmusvainio, purchasing manager at Finlayson.

​Finlayson Oy

​A household textile company with a history going back nearly 200 years
​Turnover of 23.5 million euros (forecast for 2015)
​Number of staff: 110

​Owners: Jukka Kurttila, Petri Pesonen and Risto Voutilainen


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