The new owners of Helly Hansen have appointed two high-caliber executives to its top management. Peter Sjölander, who comes to the Norwegian company after many years spent at Nike and Electrolux, takes the post of chief executive previously held by Jan Valdmaa, who left the company recently. He will work with a new chief financial officer, Knut Are Høgberg, who has been a manager of the Boston Consulting Group for 11 years. While Sjölander will not be fully operational at Helly Hansen until Oct. 1, after a one-month transition from Electrolux, Høgberg had its first day with the company today.
Sjölander, 47, is currently senior vice president of Electrolux, the world’s second largest manufacturer of domestic appliances, where he is in charge of branding, product and global licensing. Before joining this company, he worked at Intersport International and in the consumer products group of SCA (former Mölnlycke) before spending 15 years with Nike in various senior management positions, both in Europe and in the USA.
He ran Nike’s European footwear business and its global ACG outdoor division. He also took charge of its Northern Europe and CEMEA regions, starting up many of its subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe and managing many of its distributors and licensees.
Many more changes have been taking place at Helly Hansen over the last months, as it separated its sports and work clothing operations and consolidated its business into three regional centers while replacing many of its country managers. Under the new regional structure, effective from the beginning of July, the Central and Southern European countries are all supervised from Munich by Sebastien Choquette. Helly Hansen has closed down its support office in Italy, which used to take care of France, Spain and Italy, shifting this responsibility to Munich as well.
The North European countries, from Scandinavia to the UK, will be handled by Borre Hegbom, who joined Helly Hansen from Nike in 2004, handling initially only the Nordic countries. The third regional unit is North America, following a semi-merger between Helly Hansen’s U.S. and Canadian operations. Since May this unit has been led by Gary Davies, former head of Helly Hansen Canada, while his former counterpart at Helly Hansen USA, Ric Long, has left the company. Although the company retains offices in Seattle as well as Vancouver, back office functions between the two countries are being fully integrated.
These changes come after Helly Hansen rejuvenated its management in many European countries. From the beginning of July, David Wiley, former sales manager for Cross Sportswear in the UK, has taken up the same position at Helly Hansen, replacing the former country manager John Leaver. Helly Hansen had already made such changes in the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. Another switch is underway in Italy.