Portrait of Oystein Vikingsen Fauske.
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Devold of Norway

"We must take our history with us into the future!"

Øystein Vikingsen Fauske, CEO Devold of Norway
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Wool expert Devold of Norway, known for its high-quality and durable merino products for the outdoor sector, has been around for 170 years. In the anniversary year 2023, there was not only a review of successes but also a spirit of optimism - with a new Head of Marketing, a new CSR officer and a new CEO.

Transparent raw material sourcing through long-term partnerships, modern production facilities in Europe and a focus on quality are still the brand standards that Devold pursues. But what is the best way to bring history and the future together? In our "Challenges of a CEO" series, Øystein Vikingsen Fauske, CEO of Devold of Norway, takes a fresh look at the tradition-steeped company, sums up his first year in the boss's chair and makes plans for the future.

The perfect match

"My move to Devold as CEO in January 2023 was not really planned. I came from an energy company and previously worked in a global furniture company and in management consulting. So I didn't originally come from the outdoor or apparel industry. But when the opportunity arose, it was clear that I wanted to be a part of Devold. There were so many positive factors in my favor: I love the brand, knew the company from a young age and was also familiar with Devold's long history. Having grown up in the area and living just across the fjord, my family and I have always enjoyed wearing Devold products, whether ski touring or otherwise. The company's values, the focus on sustainability and our dedicated owners also appealed to me. So Devold was a very good match for me."

 Øystein Vikingsen Fauske beim Ski Touring
Øystein Vikingsen-Fauske enjoys ski touring in the mountains of Norway.
Image credit:
Øystein Vikingsen Fauske

What makes companies and employees tick?

"At Devold, the focus is on people. Also from a strategic point of view, because the well-being of the factory workers has gone hand in hand with the development of the company since the Devold factory in Langevåg near Alesund was founded 170 years ago. An electricity plant that supplied power and one of Norway's first telephone lines convinced many people to stay or settle in the region even back then.

But basically, I think that people are very, very important in all companies. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time traveling around to talk to as many people as possible - from retail to distribution. I wanted to get to know our colleagues at all locations and in the various departments, hear their thoughts on the culture and get a feel for the respective country, the local market and the customer clientele.

I soon focused on bringing the different levels even closer together as a team. I talk a lot about a common level that brings all employees and all locations in the various departments, as well as our partners around the globe, together as equals. I have discovered a lot of potential here: We have a strong foundation as a brand to continue growing our community."

Devold of Norway is known for timeless Norwegian style and high-quality wool products.
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Strong history and future opportunities

"With our long history, we have an unbeatable foundation that we just need to communicate properly. Devold has been developing and manufacturing timeless, durable clothing in a resource-conserving manner for 170 years. This philosophy also includes an appreciation of (warm) clothing and conscious consumer behavior, as well as high quality.

We are currently focusing on the customer experience and trying to improve it across all our channels to provide the best possible experience with Devold and keep it at the same level."

170 Jahre Jubiläumskollektion von Devold
A strong history: Devold collections at the 170th anniversary fashion show.
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Trends and driving forces that contribute to the brand

"We see that there are many global trends and drivers that play into our hands, such as an increased focus on activity and health, and not least more emphasis on sustainability and traceability. More and more consumers are asking for products with high quality and a long lifespan. We want to seize these opportunities and take the next step to grow further. But we want to do this in a responsible way, in line with our values and our history - and without compromising on quality.

We have a longstanding tradition of making high-quality wool products, and sticking to our standards as a premium brand is of great importance of us. I firmly believe we have the finest raw material in the world. For our thicker garments we only use Norwegian wool, which has served us brilliantly over Devold's 170 years. For our lighter garments, and as part of our quality strategy “Sheep to Shop”, we've carefully selected 39 merino wool growers in New Zealand for direct, long-term contracts. This secures us access to some of the highest quality merino wool available, in an equal partnership with our wool growers. Wool varies in color, quality (micron), and fiber length, and we need wool growers who consistently meet our stringent quality requirements. We maintain full traceability to all our growers, with about half of them capable of supplying wool for entire series in our collections. Next time you replace a worn-out item with a new one, check the hang tag for the name and photo of the farm. Our merino wool growers are, in many ways, more Devold than the rest of our products' supply chain, me included."

A pile of beige new wool
Devold keeps track of where the raw wool comes from with its Sheep-to-Shop program
Image credit:
Julian Rohn

Traceability in the supply chain

"Our value chain is quite unique. It starts with the raw materials, such as Merino wool, which we source directly from our partner farms. Our modern processing facilities are in Lithuania. This means that we not only have our own production in Europe, but also complete control over our supply chain. This control is hugely important when thinking about social responsibility, sustainability and traceability. Consumers increasingly want to know where products and raw materials come from. We can easily prove to them that they actually come from this particular farm and were produced by this particular family - from my point of view, that's a huge advantage."

Aktuelle Devold Kollektion
Current Devold collection for ski touring
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Bringing the Devold story to different markets

"We have worked hard to strengthen Devold as an organization from the inside out. Now, of course, the big question is what the future holds for us. Circularity plays an important role in this. We are currently looking at how we can make more products, especially in the outdoor sector, recyclable and reusable. In the long term, we want to achieve healthy growth with Devold and become bigger internationally in new markets by directly or indirectly telling our story and how deeply rooted we are as a brand."

Devold of Norway:

It is 170 years since the newly graduated entrepreneur Ole Andreas Devold founded the clothing brand in Langevåg near Ålesund on the west coast of Norway. Devold used mechanical knitting machines and produced knitted woolen underwear, mittens for fishermen and the traditional red hat. The first sales vehicle was a ship. Since 1989, the Norwegian wool specialist Devold has been part of the family-run Flakk Group, which is also at home in the region and has diverse interests in various industries such as tourism, building materials and renewable energies. Devold's high-quality knitwear and wool products, which are used in a wide range of outdoor activities from ski touring to gravel biking, are now manufactured in modern production facilities in Lithuania. The Norwegian brand recently signed up to the Science Based Target Initiative, committing itself to stricter requirements and greater transparency. In this context, Devold initiated a collaboration with the Norwegian software company Celsia to simplify sustainability reporting.