Founded 31 years ago, according to own accounts today IDE House of Brands is the largest promotional products agency in Norway and also plays in the top league European-wide. The heart of the group that operates all over Scandinavia beats in the metropolis region of Oslo.
“For many promotional products importers we are the most significant customer in the Nordic region,” stated Lasse Lauritzen, founder, owner and CEO of IDE House of Brands. “Although it was actually never my intention to become the biggest.” And yet his company has grown enormously, when one looks at the hard figures: With a turnover converted into Euros of around 50 mil. (approx. 41 mil. of which is earned on the domestic market), 140 employees as well as 20 subsidiaries in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, IDE House of Brands is not only according to company statements the largest promotional products distributor in Norway, it is also one of the biggest privately-run promotional products agencies in Europe. The company supplies the top customers of international groups throughout Scandinavia from oil companies and authorities, through to the 2016 IBU Biathlon World Championships, the latter in IDE House of Brands’ capacity as the official outfitter. Anyone, who visits the gigantic showroom in the centre of Oslo, which stretches over the two top floors of the famous department store GlasMagasinet and which presents the products of hundreds of suppliers on floor space measuring 1,800 m², gets a visual impression of the dimensions of the group.
The atmosphere is much more tranquil at the IDE headquarters in the picturesque village of Drøbak, which is around 40 km south of the capital city on the banks of the Oslofjord. This is where all the operations are coordinated, the marketing and contracts with suppliers are managed centrally. This is also where the company that Lauritzen founded in 1987 together with his partner at the time, Morten Pedersen, has its roots. IDE expanded, not least thanks to big orders placed in the scope of the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer. As a result over the course of the decades it was possible to open many new offices and make several acquisitions, also beyond the borders of the country: After IDE had already got a foothold in the Swedish market in 2002 with its subsidiary, the organisation purchased 80% of the Swedish firm House of Brands in 2006 and changed the corporate name to IDE House of Brands. Shortly afterwards two further offices were opened in Sweden. In the same year the first of three Danish branches was inaugurated and then finally in 2009 the first office in Finland opened its doors, in the meantime the company has six subsidiaries in the country. In spite of its dimensions, IDE House of Brands has up until this very day remained to be a family business, as Lauritzen explained proudly: “My eldest daughter Nina is Group Managing Director Nordic, my daughter Lisa runs the sales office in Oslo and my wife Kirsten is a member of the sales team in Drøbak.”
“We deliver everything”
IDE House of Brands sees itself as a one-stop full-service service provider. “What we haven’t got we will get and what we can’t get we will make,” summed up Lauritzen. In addition to intensive collaborations with big importers, IDE House of Brands relies in some cases on own imports from the Far East. A purchasing team of three people on-site in Shanghai ensures that everything runs smoothly. “We produce our iwear brand – functional ski, running, cycling and outdoor sportswear – under our own direction,” reported Lauritzen. Prominent iwear representatives are the Norwegian skiing stars Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset and Oddvar Brå as well as the Norwegian Skating Federation. The IDE portfolio also includes big brands from the retail trade, including Helly Hansen, Grundig and The North Face, as well as numerous famous Scandinavian designer companies and an exclusive newcomer: For the label byMunch, founded by Edvard Munch’s descendants Erle and Helen Munch-Ellingsen, IDE House of Brands develops exclusive products that reinterpret the painter’s art. Finally, the company also offers accompanying products such as for instance trade fair equipment, flags and displays. The most important logistical hubs of the group are the central warehouse in Langhus, Norway as well as the contract printing shop near Oslo, House of Print. The daughter company employs 14 people and as Lauritzen put it is the “heart of IDE”: “We also work together with a big service provider in Poland for embellishing the goods. Due to the huge distances in Scandinavia and the related delivery times it is however essential to print on-site as well. This is the only way we can guarantee punctual deliveries if the deadlines are tight.” The company has had its processes certified according to the quality management standard ISO 9001. Tailor-made digital services ensure an efficient, fast distribution without any hitches – according to own accounts, IDE House of Brands runs approx. 150 individually developed customer web shops throughout Scandinavia. “The digitalisation is one of the most important themes for us – and we have invested heavily here – this applies on the customer front, and equipping our own website with a massive database as well as investing in our ERP and internal communications.”
The employees of all of the subsidiaries are connected per Intranet. Here the group targets and strategies can be called up, there are satisfaction checks and every Friday a newsletter is sent out to all 140 employees, keeping them up-to-date. A joint guide for all countries of the group is also available on the Intranet, which was developed in conjunction with the respective country managers. Lauritzen: “Of course there are differences within Scandinavia regarding the mentality, tastes and business practices – we can’t just think the Norwegian way.” However, there is a consensus regarding the significance of sustainable actions: “For many of our customers it plays a big role under which conditions the products that they implement are manufactured – we take this very seriously,” said Lauritzen. “For instance we are certified according to the environmental management standard, ISO 14001 and are an active member of both Green Point and the Ethical Trading Initiative.“ A further matter that lies close to Lauritzen’s heart is the image of haptic advertising within the marketing world: “We try to educate our customers further and convince them of the impact of product media wherever we can. This is the only way to bring the entire industry forwards.” All signs are pointing towards further growth at IDE House of Brands.
// Till Barth
photos: Till Barth, © WA Media (2); IDE House of Brands (2)