10 Swedish family businesses to watch

Sweden is home to some of Europe's most famous family businesses, but there are plenty more that are worth knowing about. We've listed 10 below. 

Bonnier

One of Sweden’s best-known media groups, Bonnier is more than a 200 years old family business; it’s now run by the seventh generation. Bonnier has been around for such a long time that the present difficulties most media groups are facing from the digital revolution should not worry the Stockholm-based company. Or will they? Bonnier isn’t relying on heritage to get it by. Last year, family member Jonas Bonnier stepped down from the CEO position after just six years in the job and was replaced by a non-family member.

Bona

A third generation family business, specializing in wooden floors based in Sweden’s second biggest city Malmö. Chairman and owner Bertil Edner is the grandson of the founder William. Bona brought in a non-family CEO into the business in the early 2000s and is currently managed by Kerstin Lindell. Profits have soared recently for this hidden gem of the Swedish family business sector.

Clas Ohlson

The Swedish hardware retail business is well known highstreet brand in the Nordic region as well as the UK. Founded in 1918 by, yes, Clas Ohlson, it’s now controlled by two families both descendants of him – the Haids and Tidstrands. Third generation Bjorn Haid sits on the board. Like so many Nordic family businesses, Clas Ohlson has strong links to a small community far away from a big metropolitan city - the province of Dalarna in central Sweden. Indeed, the hardware store only opened a store outside of Dalarna in 1989, but it now has revenues of €700m and 174 outlets.

Elekka

Based in Stockholm and listed, Elekka is a second-generation family business, specializing in cancer care equipment and treatment. The chairman is Laurent Leksel, the son of the founder Lars, who set Elekka up in the early 1970s. Today, the business has annual revenues of more than €1bn.

Hästens

The maker of the most expensive beds in the world – a handmade one costs from €150,000 – is also a fifth generation family concern. Family member Jan Ryde is chairman of the Köping-based business, which has revenues of around €40m a year.

Hestra/Martin Magnusson & Co  

Hestra makes ski gloves and is also a third generation family business. It’s currently owned and run by brothers Claes and Svante Magnusson. Hestra’s company motto is “for hand, by hand since 1936” – in reference to the gloves being handmade since its launch. In 2012, Hestra's revenues were around €23m.

Kinnarps

Founded in 1942 by husband and wife Jarl and Evy Andersson, 72 years later the office furniture business is still 100% family owned. Currently the second generation - the five children of Jarl and Evy - are involved directly or indirectly in the business. Daughter Sibylla Jacobsson chairs the overall holding company. Kinnarps had revenues of around €413m in its last reported financial year.

Ludvig Svensson

A fourth generation textile business owned by the Ludvigson family and based in the small town of Kinna. Anne Ludvigson is the current chief executive of the business, which has revenues of around €55m 

Oriflame

The listed cosmetic business had revenues of more than €1.4bn. Oriflame was started by brothers Jonas and Robert af Jochnick in 1967. Robert’s son Alexander recently took over as chairman and the family still have the biggest controlling stake in the business.

Stena Sphere

The conglomerate is one of the biggest businesses in Sweden, but not necessarily known as a family-controlled one. Currently under the control of the second generation, Stena is completely owned by the family, with the chief executive Dan Sten Olsson owning the biggest stake. The business, which is involved in a host of sectors from shipping to property, has annual revenues of around €6bn.