TeekensKarstens attorneys & notaries embarks an inspiring new chapter in 2019 and opens TK Tech in Amsterdam.
Swe-Cham meets-up with Rens Goudsmit and Lex Keukens, tech lawyers at TK Tech for a chat for Swe-Cham Annual Review 2019. With effect from January 2019, the specialists of the Information, Communication & Technology sector have operated from the heart of smart city Amsterdam. With its headquarters in high-tech city Leiden, TK now has a presence in the heart of the areas where technological developments are happening in rapid succession and where start-ups and scale-ups are continuously working on the Next Big Thing. Amsterdam is one of the world’s most important start-up hubs. Within that ecosystem, there is a need for specialist legal knowledge. TK’s tech lawyers are experts in such fields as privacy (GDPR), intellectual property, M&A, blockchain and artificial intelligence. Lex Keukens, tech lawyer “The main reason why we decided to start TK Tech was that we found that there is a gap in the law area when it comes to new technology and innovation. There are a lot of big law firms that are providing their services to the big corporations in the Netherlands, but they don’t have the expertise on new innovations and the legal aspects of those technologies. Rens and I, we are convinced that all the companies that are working in those fields are investing a lot of their money in new innovations and they need high level advise and expert analysis on those innovations from a legal point of view. So that was our main starting point. TeekensKarstens is located in Leiden but we found it important that TK Tech also should be present in Amsterdam because it is the heart of the smart city. “I was already a lawyer in Amsterdam for about 7 years, but then Rens and I discussed the plan to realize TK Tech which we presented to the board in Leiden. We really believe this is the future and we were ready to take this plan to the next level here in Amsterdam. TeeksensKarstens received the idea very positive and so I joined TeekensKarstends and started TK Tech together with Rens”. Rens Goudsmit, tech lawyer: “At TeekensKarstens we are working in branches, we have six of them. Real estate, Education, Health to name a few. When I was asked to lead the sector of Information, Technology and Communication that was like your mouth full and therefore, we came up with TK Tech which is a much better name. People would recognize it and remember it. I knew Lex from our studies so when the opportunity came by to setup TK Tech together it was a great joint adventure. We really want to focus on the new technology, so we want to help startups, but also scaleups and our existing clients in every face of their innovation journey with the challenges they are facing. The thing is, that the existing legislation is not made for all the new technologies, and (new) technologies are evolving every day. So, while they are building every day on new technology the existing legislation is failing behind more and more. That is where a tech lawyer comes in and help the companies to define what is their (legal) playing field. What boundaries do you face and more important, what opportunities do you have and most important, where can it add value to your business model? Laws and regulations are often not adapted to new developments Rens: “We translate issues in the technology sector into the best and most practical legal solutions. We develop close relationships with our clients and take on a connecting role. We know the sector and the issues that also will be relevant in the future. As tech lawyers, we leverage our knowledge and experience to forge the essential link between innovation and regulation. New technologies and developments are also leading to innovative, interesting and complex legal issues. Current laws and regulations tend not to have been geared to these new developments yet. There is still no obvious answer to questions such as: how do the principles of the GDPR affect the documentation of all manner of transactions in a decentralised blockchain? Who is liable if a self-driving car causes an accident? Who holds the copyright if a robot writes a book? We address these questions by understanding the technology based on our legal knowledge and knowledge of the sector, always with a keen eye for technology.” Lex: “We are learning from our clients. We are working with startups, scaleups from the Netherlands and Europe, but also from the rest of the world and they come with their questions to us. So we are learning by doing when we have to find out what is their legal playing field and how can we solve their challenges. But we are also talking to policy makers and attending events of importance to u and building networks to gain the knowledge we need to know in those areas of the law. We also work together with universities and high schools by giving presentations and to learn from them. They explain to us how the technology works, and we explain the legal framework.” Growth through connecting Making connections is key for TK Tech. The network TK has built within the sector is opened up to, and expanded for, clients in this growth sector. Especially in this sector it is crucial to share best practices and knowledge. That is why TK Amsterdam is located in a co-workspace at Keizersgracht and why its tech lawyers are members of various Dutch and international networks. The new office is also an important link in the further expansion of TK’s international practice, which has a particular focus on international dispute resolution, M&A and start-up and scale-up growth support services, including assistance in investment rounds by venture capitalists, informal investors and/or angel investors. Help to build products and services of the future Lex: “For instance, we have the copyright law from 1912 and it states that only natural persons can be the holder for copyright. If a copyright infringer someone’s rights, you should go to the natural person involved in the creative process of that copyright which can make it complicated when we are talking about AI. But there has been case law after that, so it is not as the law has not been updated and developing since 1912. There is a lot of case law and case law is also part of the legal framework. But sometimes you need a new framework, for instance with the GDPR, when you look at the personal data and how to protect it. You cannot longer work from an old legal framework, you need updates. And on the field on AI, I am sure we definitely need some legal framework on short notice.” Rens: “The authorities need to be open and supporting for the use of new technology. And that is something we need to work on together with the policy makers by using the know how’s of the startups and the scaleups. For example, TechLeap is an important organization in that field to encourage working together to see what is needed from the startup’s side but also what needs to be regulated by the authorities.” Lex: “It is also important to look into this as quick as possible because as there is not a concrete legal framework for instance on AI, you see that Europe is falling behind compared to the United States or China. In the United State there is more concrete legal legislation about AI. What you see is that the big corporations who wants to invest in technology are researching the AI field and they see that there is no concrete legal framework. For us it is a big liability to invest so they are reluctant to invest and what we need in Europe. Investment. Europe is falling behind so we definitely need some framework there.” TK Amsterdam is home to a passionate and enthusiastic young team that is committed to providing legal and strategic services to innovative organisations to help them work towards success. Its tech lawyers are not just legal partners, but they also serve as strategic advisers and linking pins. They facilitate, protect and help develop the products and services of the future. Rens: “A big difference at TK Tech is the starting point. Normally as a lawyer you would always start from the law and with us, we want to understand the technology first and then see what law is existing in this point and what is needed for those companies to take it to the next step.” Lex: “At the moment we are looking for another tech-lawyer to increase our support and I guess we will be looking for even more support in the near future. And we are always looking for enthusiastic students to join us.” TK Tech collaboration with the Swedish Chamber Rens: “I think the collaboration with Swedish Chamber is going really well, we really enjoyed hosting the “What’s New” program last year and we also the business update to Stockholm where we met some new companies. For instance, we did the 5G tour at Ericsson and that was really interesting.” Lex: “We want to work even closer with the Chamber and the members in the future and to see what kind of new projects we could work on together with them.” Rens: “We are looking forward to meet the members of the Swedish Chamber, especially in tech, but also to see if we can learn from them, technique wise but also company wise and see if we can get some good collaboration out of that.” Lex: “Swedish Chamber, is one of the networks in my point of view that is really focusing on tech.” Rens: “And the best thing is that we can connect Sweden and the Netherlands so that we only don’t have the know-how in the Netherlands, but we combine those two.” March 2020 By Lina Stackegård and Kerstin Gerlagh
Swe-Cham 5G Webinar on June 25, 2020
On June 25, 2020 the Swedish Chamber of Commerce hosted a 5G: the Gamechanger for Society and Industry in collaboration with the The Swedish Embassy the Hague and Ericsson.
We started off with a welcome and introduction by Everth Flores, Country Manager Ericsson the Netherlands. During the past year, 5G has become an even hotter topic than before. It now has become a reality. Various mobile operators have already launched 5G services, and 5G-enabled smartphones are for sale in the shops. Still, the mass adoption is yet to come. It is expected that 5G technology will be the basis for many innovative services, both in industries as well as in society empowering an intelligent, sustainable and connected world.
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The Swedish Chamber welcomes new Board members at the 60th Annual General Meeting June 30, 2020
On June 30, 2020, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands welcomed members to its 60th Annual General Meeting (AGM), hosted for the first time in a virtual setting in light of the ongoing pandemic. At the meeting, Herrik van der Gaag, CEO at Volvo Car Netherlands, Ruth de Jager, Country Manager for Storytel in The Netherlands and Rik Zuidmeer, Partner and member of the International Leadership Team of Mercuri Urval and Executive Director for Mercuri Urval NL were elected to the Board of Directors. “The Swedish Chamber for Commerce brings together some of the best Swedish companies represented in the Netherlands, bridging cultural differences and providing platforms for interpersonal relations, essential for today’s international business environment”, says Herrik van der Gaag in his motivation to serve as a Member of the Board of Directors at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Ruth de Jager:“I am honoured to be considered as a member of the board of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, It is impressive to see the reach and inspiration Kerstin and her network set in motion. I very much support the Swedish core values, like sustainability and especially the much admired equality between men and women." “The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to welcome the new appointments. The elected members are all respected and engaged business leaders from their respective sectors, and will serve alongside an already impressive list of Swedish-Dutch business profiles. We are very much looking forward to working with the three of them,” says Ehsan Turabaz, Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands. At the AGM the following Board Members were retiring: Ruud Joosten Akzo Nobel, Peter Smink and Wilma Buis, Mercuri Urval. “The Swedish Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Ruud, Peter and Wilma for the great collaboration during their years and for their commitment and contribution to the development of the Swedish Chamber. A special thank to Wilma Buis as head of the Nominating Committee and also for very successfully leading the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Mentorship Program for the past 5 years,” says Ehsan Turabaz, Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. “We wish Ruud, Peter and Wilma lots of success for the future and looking forward to keep you in our network” Ehsan Turabaz continues. Welcome to read more about the new Board Members Welcome to read “Thank you and goodbye” by Wilma Buis New Board Members:
Thank you and goodbye!
Time to say goodbye and look back. After five years I am leaving the Board of the Swedish Chamber, because I have stepped down from my role as managing Director of Mercuri Urval after 20 years.So no Swedish link anymore in my formal role. Alas! Mercuri Urval, executive search and talent services, established in Stockholm more than 50 years ago, has been a member and patron of the Swedish Chamber as long as I can remember. We have always been enthusiastic about the Swedish Chamber as a platform where you can meet a lot of interesting people from interesting companies with all one thing in common: Swedish/Dutch business. So for me it was an honour when I got the request to join the Board five years ago. I am looking back at enjoyable years in which I have learned a lot and exchanged a lot of ideas with my fellow Board members and SCC members. And I am pleased I can present Rik Zuidmeer as my successor representing Mercuri Urval in the Board. In my opinion we can be very proud of such an active Chamber of Commerce. The Board has had two chairmen during ‘my’ five years, Nils van Dijkman from Heussen Advocaten and Ehsan Turabaz from Inter IKEA Group, both equally enthusiastic and committed to the Chamber. With Kerstin Gerlagh as the admirable driving force in the Chamber, many, many events were organised. People from a variety of Dutch and Swedish companies have met there, visited plants and other company locations, had presentations and interesting discussions with business people and representatives of government and politics. The master class lunches in Amsterdam with the excellent international speakers are events worthy to remember as well. Next to all the business events there were the enjoyable social events such as the yearly Lucia Dinner with original Swedish food and choir. There the Chamber handed out the Swedish Chamber Business Awards to remarkable performing Swedish companies in The Netherlands. During the years I have also experienced the smooth and very supportive co-operation with the Swedish Embassy and the respective Ambassadors. A special thank you to the current Honorary Chairwoman of the SCC H.E. Ambassador of Sweden Mrs. Annika Markovic. The Young Professionals is an active part of the Chamber as well. I was happy to be invited at their very entertaining 10th anniversary event! I have met a lot of young Swedish and Dutch people, working for mostly Swedish companies in The Netherlands, during the 5 years I was involved in and leading the Mentor Group. We have amongst each other exchanged a lot of learnings on careers, business and culture. I would like to thank as well all the enthusiastic mentors from our member companies, that have volunteered to be a mentor, despite their very busy jobs. Thank you all, both mentors and mentees, for the interesting meetings we have had! Moving from De Ruijterkade in Amsterdam to the new dynamic Epicenter has marked the start of a new episode in the Chamber’s activities. New opportunities and more contacts with businesses 2.0 or even 3.0. The challenges all companies face today in securing their continuity and sustainable growth in a digitized and demanding environment are on the agenda every day. Both Sweden and The Netherlands are countries where companies are working hard to find solutions for our common future. Everyone who has visited an event of the Chamber at the Epicenter will have sensed the positive business atmosphere. I wish all members and the Board of the Swedish Chamber many more years of fruitful business networking and prosperous business. Wilma Buis
Words of the Honorary Chairwoman
On June 30, 2020 the Swedish Chamber of Commerce conducted their Annual General Meeting 2019. Welcome to read the Words of the Honorary Chairwoman. More Annual Reviews and interviews with Member companies in the Annual Review 2019. Words of the Honorary Chairwoman H.E. Annika Markovic, Ambassador of Sweden 2019 was an intense year for the Swedish-Dutch relations and the already strong and dynamic relationship between our countries was reinforced in several aspects. On a political level, the commitment to work closer together was clearly signaled from the eight Swedish Ministers that visited the Netherlands last year, including Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson to mention a few. As the most likeminded countries in Europe, building even stronger ties between us is a priority for both our governments. The bilateral collaboration was also reinforced through several newly initiated partnerships and projects, mainly in the innovation and tech sector and in the fields of environment and climate. The bilateral long-term cooperation in the tech sector that was launched in 2018 resulted in two visits to Sweden in 2019 by State secretary Mona Keijzer and Prince Constantijn. The purpose of those visits was to explore the startup ecosystem in Stockholm, to discuss access to venture capital and the possibility to strengthen women participation in the startup sector. As a follow-up to these visits, The Swedish embassy together with the Swedish Chamber of commerce and Epicenter organized the first edition of TechBridge Sweden-The Netherlands focusing on “Women in tech” in the end of last year. It was a highly interesting talk that you can listen to through our new podcast “Swedish Brains” at Spotify! “Women in Tech” is also a theme for an ongoing dialogue between the Swedish Embassy and the Ministry of Economy and Climate, with the aim to come up with concrete common political actions points together. There is a clear interest from the Dutch government to collaborate further with Sweden on issues related to gender equality in the labor market and in the economy. In the field of environment, energy transition and green innovations, the collaboration between the Nordic embassies and the Nordic Chambers in the Netherlands continues. We delivered an ambitious program of activities during 2019 focusing on the transition towards a circular economy, using the development of Artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool for more sustainable solutions and energy solutions for green growth. This collaboration has broadened our respective networks, given concrete business opportunities for Swedish companies in the Netherlands and increased our footprint. The support for this collaboration from the Nordic Council of Ministers and the EU-commission has strengthened our message even further. The Netherlands is just like Sweden a digital and innovative world leader. The Dutch digital and innovation strategy with its top sectors, very much goes in line with Swedish top tech priorities such as energy, food, life science, health and high tech. These are all sectors with great potential for further bilateral cooperation. The embassy will therefore continue to focus on our main priorities, innovation, sustainability and gender equality in the economy for the promotion activities the coming year. These main priorities go well hand in hand with the interests of many of the members of the Swedish Chamber in the Netherlands, which paves the ground for further successful collaboration between the Embassy and the Chamber for the future. Gender equality is core to the Swedish feminist government, but also means smart business for many Swedish companies. It’s often very inspiring to listen and learn how Swedish companies work with improving gender balance and diversity in their markets abroad. 2020 marks a special year for the Swedish Chamber of commerce in the Netherlands as it celebrates its 60-year anniversary in the country. With its current 150 members, the Chamber today plays an important role – not at least for the visibility of Sweden and Swedish companies in the Netherlands. This will be highlighted even more through an ambitious jubilee program by the end of the year. The Swedish Embassy will support this and puts great importance to the collaboration between the Swedish Embassy and the Chamber. We should be proud of the ambitious work that “Team Sweden” did in the Netherlands in 2019 and let’s continue this great collaboration to make 2020 equally successful! H.E. Annika Markovic, Ambassador of Sweden Honorary Chairwoman Swedish Chamber of Commerce
Quinyx Happy workforce – Happy Business
The Chamber meets Sam Mirson, Country Manager Quinyx Netherlands, for an interview for Swedish Chamber Annual Review 2019.The Quinyx story began in 2005, when Erik Fjellborg Founder & CEO, was flipping burgers at McDonald’s in Örebro at the age of 17. He noticed that there were problems with scheduling the shifts for the personnel and he developed an idea that wouldn’t just change his life, but would change the lives’ of millions of people around the globe. In 2007 he had created Quinyx, a workforce management system recently named one of the top 50 super-scaleups in Europe. In 2019 Quinyx opened their office in Amsterdam. Now they have offices in 8 countries: Sweden, UK, Finland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the US, and customers in around 40 different countries. The urgency for workforce management Millions of people are working on an hourly basis around the world. Sectors like hospitality, logistics, healthcare, retail and other service industries are currently employing over 1.5 billion people worldwide. People who work uncomfortable hours, earn minimum wages, have no say and experience a huge lack of trust, as well as lack of flexibility – in industries where it is needed the most. This is the field where Quinyx wants to make a difference. Creating a happy workforce, creates a happy business. Sam Mirson, Country Manager at Quinyx Netherlands explains how they make a difference: “Quinyx supports business from bottom up. I think this is a Swedish mentality if you look internationally. We empower the employees by improving their work lives. Because an engaged workforce, according to Gallup, is 20% more productive. People who enjoy their work will grow, develop, provide better customer service, and create a successful business.” Everything in one place Quinyx makes labor-intensive processes easy. With a 4.5 score in the App-store and Google ratings they are the best in class. Sam Mirson “We invest heavily in our product, all the money that Quinyx makes we put back into the product, so the product is evolving very quickly. It’s more than managing schedules or time registrations, the AI-forcasting, and integration to external salary systems are important features for businesses.” The value of data Artificial intelligence feeds on the amount of data, with 800 clients, 500.000 active users and 14 million app logins per month Quinyx has a lot of data on how people interact with work. Sam Mirson: “This is really interesting to look at, for example how much people look at their schedules, applying for leave, giving notice of interest to take shifts and swapping shifts with each other. You can compare your own data or with data from other companies to optimize for better results. The data gives really good insights. If we see that in the Amsterdam area, a lot of people are applying for sick leave on the app it can help other customers to prepare for that by saying that they might have a 90% chance that somebody will call in sick next Monday. Then they can make the decision to call in an extra shift”. Flexibility is key Research in the Netherlands showed that the number one reason why people leave their jobs is lack of flexibility. With 54% the percentage is much higher than any other countries in Europe. Followed by career progression and salary at third place. Sam Mirson: “If we look at the data, temporary employments in the Netherlands is at 21,5% which is 85% higher than the rest of Europe according to OECD. In the Netherlands 55% of the people aged 15 to 24 have a temporary contract. And that is also quite high but people here seem ok with it because only 6.3% of those are involuntary.” This is why we make things easier for the managers with our app. For example, with the shift swaps. They can push a button and see who is available with the right skills, and possible within HR regulations within a second. And we can also enable to punch in and out at more places when a company has multiple locations” The answer to laws and regulations “At Quinyx we have the highest standards of security. With banks and government institutions as customers, you can imagine how important this is. Quinyx is compliant with all the GDPR-related (AVG) and personal data security regulations. It is only the encrypted data that you can use in comparisons and research. When it comes to compliances in the Netherlands it helps us being from the Nordics because our labor laws are quite similar. There are also changes in the Netherlands because of the new WAB rules that came into force the first of January this year. We are fully compliant to those new regulations.” Clients & Partners Quinyx is working with many global brands in the Netherlands such as Rituals, Hanos, Swarovski, Flying Tiger and many more. Sam Mirson explains their strategy: “We work very tightly with partners. We collaborate with sales & marketing activities so we can introduce our customers to each other. Organizing lunch & learns to inspire business for example. And we use some partners with the implementations so they can leverage on our success. We are open to expand even more with partners to generate more local presence.” The benefits for customers “We save at least 50% of admin time for our customers. So just saving that time, if you translate those hours into money, because those hours are still utilized, but into more productive tasks than scheduling. So that helps our customers to earn more money. We also see that the employee engagement goes up with 10% across all our customers and that employee engagement is translating into 5% percent more sales. We see a reduction in 12% on payroll costs when you start using Quinyx and you are able to reduce sick leave because you actually co-create the schedule with your employees.” Sustainability policies With the green movement in full swing, what is the Quinyx policy for Sustainability? Sam Mirson: “We have sustainability policies at Quinyx. For example, we do a lot of video conferences instead of meetings in person. And when you have to travel we use the train if possible instead of the plain to reduce the carbon footprint. In our social updates we motivate each other to calculate how much CO2 emissions we saved.” By Johanna Lund and Kerstin Gerlagh, Swedish Chamber of Commerce Annual Review 2019 Welcome to read more Member interviews in Annual Review 2019 https://swedishchamber.nl/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2020_Annual-Review-2019_FINAL.pdf
Words of the Chairman
AT THE MOMENT of writing my Words we acknowledge that this is a stressful and concerning time for many due to the prevailing situation around the infectious virus Corona, covid-19/2019-nCoV. Although it is hard to measure the impact of this pandemic, the experts agree that it is safe to say that the hit to the global health situation and global economy is already severe. We would like to do our very best to support all our members and your business in the best way we can. Unfortunately, this means that we had to decide to cancel some of our events, however, as soon as the situation has stabilized and things are under control again, we hope to have them back on our agenda very soon. Ranked no. 4 in the world by Forbes’ “Best Countries for Business”, the Netherlands is truly a world-class business destination. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands are excited to operate in this international environment and to help Swedish companies with an interest to expand their business on the Dutch market by connecting them to our existing business networks to help them grow their business. We are also pleased to offer an excellent Mentorship Program for Young Professionals in the NL and a Women Business Leadership Program allowing female leaders to thrive. For 2019, The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is looking back on a very successful year with many highlights, new useful business networks and business opportunities for our members. Moving office to Epicenter Amsterdam and starting a serious collaboration with the Epicenter founders and team has made it possible for the Chamber to realize inspiring and innovative events together. This also made it possible to connect the Epicenter tech community to the Swedish Chamber members for mutual benefits and new collaborations. Our contemporary office space represents the new trend of an open and transparent Chamber where everyone is welcome, and we are happy to connect and help companies in any way we can to grow. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Honorary Chairwoman, H.E. Ambassador Annika Markovic and her team for the great collaborations which have made it possible to organize Summits together with an impact on topics such as Circular Economy, Gender balance, and Tech Bridge Sweden – Netherlands – Women in Tech, enabling us to highlight Swedish values and creating new collaborations on different levels from governments to entrepreneurs. Another important and inspiring partnership is the #NordicTalks together with our Nordic Chamber colleagues. This year the #NordicTalks presented a very inspiring AI Summit featuring speakers from Ericsson, Microsoft, Rockstar and many more tech companies on the edge of innovation. The very good collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands was this year again visible by an invitation from Prince Daniel of Sweden to Prince Constantijn, TechLeap, to visit Stockholm to find out more about the Swedish Startup and Tech ecosystem and a visit by State Secretary Mona Keizer for the same reason a few months later. The Swedish Chamber is proud that our Startup Summit in May 2018 has continued to inspire and encourage collaborations and knowledge exchange and created new business possibilities for the Startup eco systems in our two countries. Last but not least I would like to thank all our members for the fruitful collaborations, fantastic sponsoring and support which has made it possible for the Swedish Chamber to once again present a fantastic business program with nearly 1400 participants at the different events throughout the year. This year the Swedish Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 60 years anniversary in the Netherlands. Founded in 1960 – by business and for business – we have represented, inspired and promoted our members, extended commercial relations between our countries, and delivered first-class services and events for 60 years! It is through our collective effort that we make the Chamber dynamic and diverse and what makes it possible to connecting Swedish and Dutch companies and to form the ultimate business platform. Sweden and the Netherlands celebrate centuries of friendship and trade, and our business and political spheres are tightly interlinked as a result of it. On November 19, 2020* we are therefore celebrating the Swedish-Dutch 60 year’s Anniversary Summit and Gala Dinner about 21st century innovation and leadership, bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and academics from both Sweden and the Netherlands to address the greater trends facing us, from tech to climate change, the future workforce and global trade.The Anniversary year will be highlighted on November 19, 2020 but throughout the whole year we are underlining the anniversary and the good relations between Sweden and the Netherlands. We cordially thank the exclusive 60th Year Anniversary sponsors for making our Anniversary year possible and we welcome all our members and relations to take part in the celebrations and inspiring programs during the year and to take the opportunity to highlight your company, products and services. Finally, I would like to share the strong values of IKEA which, in my opinion, resonates very well with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. The IKEA values are: Togetherness, cost consciousness, renew and improve, give and take responsibility, caring for people and planet, simplicity, different with a meaning.“Most things remain to be done. Glorious future!” — Ingvar KampradYours sincerely, Ehsan Turabaz Chairman *Due to the Corona Pandemic the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 60th Anniversary Celebration will be postponed until Q1 2021.
The Chamber meets Jon Abrahamsson, newly appointed CEO of Inter IKEA Group
First of all, we would like to congratulate you with your appointment - How do you feel? “I’m very happy! It’s really a fantastic opportunity and a dream come true. We have such a strong heritage to stand on, and there are so many opportunities out there. It could not have happened at a better time. Under Torbjörn Lööf’s leadership, we took steps to complement our traditional stores with more city-centre stores, online shopping, home delivery and assembly. Going forward we will continue this work. We want to make IKEA affordable for many more people, and we want to make IKEA more accessible for many more people. At the same time we want to help many more people to live a more sustainable life at home. Doing these three things together is a great opportunity for IKEA going forward. A lot of people across IKEA have already put in so much hard work to get this far. On top of that there has been a lot of work to structure and set up an even more solid franchise system that we can continue to build on for many generations to come. So I think the table is set to continue that journey. Now we can develop even better products, find more clever solutions and create an even more rewarding customer meeting – in an even more sustainable way. I think that’s when we’re at our best at IKEA. Through innovation, constant improvements and occasional fundamental changes, we can create more sustainable products at better prices. We have lots of good examples already: board-on-frame coffee tables, affordable low-energy bulbs and – coming soon – plant balls in our restaurants and Swedish food markets. The ingredients have just 4% the climate footprint of a traditional meatball, it tastes better, and it comes at a lower price. There’s a lot to like about that example. If you create something more sustainable and raise the price, people can’t afford it. So you limit its impact. And if you make something affordable at the expense of sustainability, it doesn’t help anyone either. To be successful long-term, you have to put affordability and sustainability together. That’s a lot of hard work! But we’re in a position to lead the way. For me it’s actually our duty. Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people, and we do this by making our products both more affordable and more sustainable. Luckily we have the long-term view and structure to make it possible. We have 9,500 IKEA products, and our range is very focused. That means we get big volumes for every product. And we’re very focused on a limited number of products that you can combine in different ways. Today we’re looking at each step in the product life cycle – from raw materials through manufacture and distribution and finally to people’s homes. At each step we ask “what can we do differently to prolong its life?” With big volumes like ours, even a small change can make a big impact. This is not a sprint, and we need to set the right conditions for long-term growth. IKEA started in Sweden more than 75 years ago, then it expanded to the Nordics, Europe, North America and Asia. Today we’re in a little over fifty markets. Now we’re taking the natural step into South America with our partner Falabella, a South American multinational retail group. We’re working with them to open IKEA stores in Chile, Colombia and Peru. As I said earlier, we think a lot about the “back-end” when designing new products. The same goes for our stores and e-commerce. We need to have the back-end in place first. So opening stores on a new continent takes time. But we’ll soon be ready. These kinds of partnerships are key to our success. Our franchise model gives us a strategic advantage: a local anchor and a strong player who knows the market. Of course there is a long selection process to become an IKEA franchisee. We look for companies with good business- and investment capacity. More importantly – we look for companies that share our values. So we’re happy to partner now with Falabella. They’re a great match, and they know the South American market so much better than we do. This is the strength of our franchise system.” How do you implement the Swedish-based IKEA values into the new markets where you operate? “It’s a lot of hard work. And you’re never really done - you always have to work on it in one way or another. We were talking about it the other week here in the office. You can visit IKEA anywhere in the world and meet new people you can connect with right away. It all starts with the recruitment process and continues as people grow and develop within IKEA. Being close to or far from Sweden isn’t really the challenge – it’s the constant changes. So we have to nurture our culture and values in all parts of our business. Worldwide! The IKEA culture and value are our core strengths. We achieve this by being consistent about our culture and our vision. Our values have always been the backbone of IKEA, and of course it all started with our founder Ingvar Kamprad. Business and People together form our core values, and that’s how we run IKEA still today. Ingvar always talked about the importance of creating good conditions for everyone that works at IKEA. When you visited a store with Ingvar, he was always engaged with our co-workers. We were at the store at five o’clock in the morning because that was when the truck drivers arrived, and he wanted to know how they were doing. He wanted to make sure they got a sandwich and a place to sit and rest and refresh. And whenever we visited a store, we always visited the staff areas to see what they were like. Again – business and people together.” What does IKEA look like in 5 years? “We’ll be more affordable. We will lower our prices even more so that more people can afford us. This is still our number one goal. Our biggest hurdle is to be truly affordable in all parts of the world. For everyone, really. We’ll also be more accessible. Today our 436 store are a fantastic cornerstone of our customer experience. This year we had one billion visitors, and it’s still increasing. Our e-commerce share is 8% of our total sales, and we plan to continue to grow in all channels. And then of course we’re also testing new formats and smaller formats so we can be in even more places than just out by the big highways. In city centres, but also shopping centres and suburbs. We want to be where people are. Finally, we’ll be an even more sustainable business. IKEA is committed to make a positive difference on climate change. By 2030 our ambition is to reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than the IKEA value chain emits, while growing the IKEA business. We made a small step this year by reducing our climate footprint even as we continued to grow. Transforming IKEA into a circular business is one of our biggest ambitions and challenges for the future. It will impact the business in all aspects: from how we develop products and services, source materials, develop the IKEA supply chain, to how and where we meet our customers. This will enable us to prolong the life of products and materials. So five years from now we’ll be affordable for many more, we’ll be accessible for many more and we’ll do it all in an even more sustainable way. That I promise you.” You have been working with Ingvar Kamprad and of course he is the founder and icon of IKEA and even of Swedish industry. What have you learned from him and what kind of leader are you and how will you lead the way for the coming years? “Working with Ingvar was a fantastic opportunity, and I learned a lot from him. But there are two things in particular that super inspire me and I try to do a little bit of myself. One is that he was constantly curious. Curious all the time about everything actually! And of course he very quickly related it to IKEA. But he was really very interested about what was happening all over the world. He was also very curious about people. This nearly constant curiosity was really a very good skill. The second thing was that Ingvar was consistent about the big picture – yet he was always open to test, try and explore in the details. He created an amazing balance between consistency and renewal, and I do my best to do keep the same perspective. IKEA and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce collaboration We are very happy with the cooperation with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce here in the Netherlands and in many other places as well. There are two reasons for this. One is of course that it is a part of our Swedish heritage and a very good link and connection to Sweden that we value a lot. The second is based on my experience with IKEA in China and Canada, where the chamber provided great opportunities to meet a broad spectra of influencers. It’s a very good vehicle for us to meet other companies, academic resources and the public sector. That’s why I value this kind or cooperation so much.” We would like to let you know that the support from you is very important for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. And since this year, we are celebrating our 60 years anniversary of the Swedish Chamber and we are very happy and grateful that you are supporting this as Exclusive Sponsor together with Handelsbanken. By Kerstin Gerlagh and Josefina Lund Welcome to read more Member interviews in the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Annual Review 2019