A Norwegian Success Story!

The History of Varner

The Norwegian success story started in 1962 with the opening of the first “Frank Varner” store in Oslo. Today, the Varner group is one of the leading fashion retailers in Scandinavia with a brand portfolio of 11 brands, such as Dressmann, Bik Bok, Carlings, Cubus and Volt. The group currently operates more than 1,450 stores, gives jobs to almost 11,000 employees and generates a turnover of about 1.3 billion Euro. 

After having conquered the Scandinavian countries Norway, Sweden and Finland, Varner pushed along to the Baltics, Iceland, Poland and Germany and was then ready to take the next big plunge to the south – Austria, the heart of Europe. 

What sounded like a natural decision was the result of an intense preparation and evaluation process, since Austria had to take up competition with Belgium and The Netherlands. Lucky Austria, two experts made the difference: Viennese based retail consultancy BergsTopp, together with Swedish expansion expert Diamon prepared grounds for Varner’s decision to take up Austria as their next expansion country. 


Why Austria?

In the centre of Europe, ideally located between the Western and Eastern European countries, Austria's stable economic conditions and the high purchasing power rank the country at the very top of many international retailers looking for another success story. Due to its high concentration of shopping centres and its promising consumer demand, it comes not as a surprise that the Austrian retail market constantly attracts new brands.

Read more about the Austrian retail expansion market!


Well prepared!

Aiming at the “Big Bang”, Varner planned to open at least 25 stores within their first 12 months of expansion. In order to successfully accomplish such a task, the in-house head of expansion decided to team up with a local retail location consultant to prepare a full-fledged expansion strategy. BergsTopp, with its unique set of services – covering all relevant aspects from location to finance and legal matters – turned out to be the perfect partner for Varner’s big goals. 


How it was done – 5 Steps to Success

  1. The starting point of Varner’s expansion to Austria was a detailed expansion report, tailored to the needs of each individual brand, shortlisting the most attractive retail locations for Varner.

  2. Those locations were then double checked and visited in reality by the relevant decision makers of Varner, in order to get a first-hand impression of the pre-selected centres and the shop units respectively.

  3. Since Varner was unknown to many in the Austrian retail landscape, BergsTopp undertook an introduction tour to all major center operators and real estate key players. This road show laid basis for receiving first-rated offers.

  4. Before greenlighting a specific shop unit, each location had to undergo a site as well as a financial check by the experts of BergsTopp, taking into account the specifications given by Varner.

  5. After that, BergsTopp was able to live up to its mission statement “Always Negotiate”, got back to the landlords and concluded the required lease agreements. 


Having put together the best possible team, it took less than 17 months from the board decision of entering Austria to the opening of the first store on 5 March 2015. Within 12 months after the initial road show, the team secured more than 25 high-class retail locations, which makes the Varner market entry the most prominent expansion in 2015 in Austria.




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