January 10, 2018 Long live the product
In their flagship store in Oslo, Bergans of Norway is turning their vision of a circular economy into a reality.
The 1000 m2 store near Oslo City Hall first opened in August 2016. Besides offering the world’s largest assortment of Bergans products, the store has evolved into a kind of test center for sustainable business development. A part of Bergans’ own sewing workshop – previously located at the head office in Hokksund – has been moved to the store, where repairs of Bergans products are now carried out on-site by specialist staff. Along with the highly successful sale of second-hand products, a rental program including large backpacks, tents and ski wear has also been launched.
“To repair clothes is nothing new. But how can we as an outdoor brand help to change a mindset so our customers start looking at outdoor products in a new way? Here, our store has been very important,” says Christoph Centmayer, Sustainability Manager at Bergans of Norway.
Bergans of Norway includes the transition towards a circular business model in the company’s long-term strategy. Bergan’s motto “Long live the product” summarizes the vision that products should be returned, repaired, reused and redesigned instead of becoming waste. But visions and goals require action.
“When you start taking action, you need to be able to test new solutions and then scale up the solutions you see are working well.”
A good example of how the Oslo flagship store aids the transition is the return system launched in 2017.
“The second-hand assortment had become so popular that we were often out of stock. Now, we all know how much unused products people have hanging in their wardrobes. To make people see these products as potential resources, we started to offer a small return payment to everyone who left used outdoor products at the store – also from other outdoor brands.”
A national return system
The customer response was positive, and in September Bergans was able to scale up the system. To make the product return option available to Norwegian customers living outside the capital city region, Bergans developed the “Pantepose” (The Return Bag), a 20-liter recyclable LD-Polythene bag equipped with the company’s address and prepaid postage. For every bag sent in, Bergans offers a rebate coupon as a bonus.
“Within a month, people had ordered around 700 bags from our webshop. A few weeks later we had received over 300 outdoor products.”
Returned products from Bergans are repaired and sold in the flagship store’s second-hand department. Products from other brands that are in good shape are donated to an aid organization.
“A lot of the clothes that are not repairable go into our own redesign project, where we use the textiles etc. to make unique, handmade products with a new functionality. This is also a way to show our customers how much can be done with a product instead of letting it go to waste,” explains Christoph Centmayer.
Bergans at ISPO: Hall A2 102