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“Partnering with Goodwille was very valuable. They organised the whole practical side of our UK operations, from the initial company registration to VAT registration, accounting and HR & Payroll support as the team grew. Having all this administrative help meant I did not need to worry about these distractions, and I could use my energy on the commercial side of the business and client work. Organising these processes myself would have taken a great deal of my time, so I am very grateful for the support we received in the early stages of our UK market expansion.”

Romy Rawlings, Commercial Director of Vestre 

Creating solutions to
urban challenges

Rapid urbanisation and man-made climate change are some of the most critical challenges of our time. The search for sustainability is creeping into all corners of our lives – and for good reason. Experts have warned us for decades of the dangerous consequences if we fail to take better care of our planet.

Vestre is a Norwegian manufacturer of urban outdoor furniture that has decided to take on the challenge and make the world a better place – one piece of furniture at a time. From sourcing the world’s “greenest” aluminium and steel, to running factories on solar panel energy, sustainability is at the core of everything Vestre does. With an ambitious aim to be the world’s most sustainable furniture company, they have integrated nine of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into their business operations. To support others who want to do the right thing, Vestre donates 10% of the yearly profit to finance sustainable projects around the world.

Read on to hear more about Vestre’s mission and journey from Norway to the international markets.

Vestre's products in Times Square, New York

Exporting Nordic
values to the world

Vestre has a strong market position in Scandinavia, especially in Oslo and Stockholm, and in recent years they have sought further growth from international markets. With their award-winning design, they have successfully established offices in London, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles. And for Vestre, it’s never just about the furniture. According to Vestre’s Commercial Director Romy Rawlings, the CEO Jan Christian Vestre always talks about the bigger picture. So, just as their business is about more than just maximising profits, their journey to international markets is about more than just pursuing growth. It’s about exporting Nordic values to the world.

A central principle that underpins urban development across the Nordics is the so-called “everyman’s right”, which gives the general public a legal right to roam freely across both public and private land. This notion that nature should be free for everyone to enjoy, has gained a lot of interest in international markets, and particularly in the US. There is an increasing understanding that developing shared public spaces for citizens can be an efficient tool in creating more inclusive and social communities.

From Oslo’s Aker Brygge to New York’s Times Square and King Cross in London, Vestre’s timeless designs now decorate many famous locations and outdoor spaces around the world. Recently, Vestre has experienced great success in the US market, where in 2020, they surpassed their budget target by 140%.

The worldwide pandemic opened
new opportunities in the UK

When Romy Rawlings started as Commercial Director of Vestre in the UK, the company had completed some projects in the UK market but needed someone to drive the demand further and scale the size of the projects. Having a dedicated person to look after the market significantly helped Vestre scale their operations and understand the differences between the UK and Scandinavian markets. When the team was small, it was also essential that Romy was able to direct her full focus on the things that would bring the most value to the business.

“Partnering with Goodwille was very valuable. They organised the whole practical side of our UK operations, from the initial company registration to VAT registration, accounting and HR & Payroll support as the team grew. Having all this administrative help meant I did not need to worry about these distractions, and I could use my energy on the commercial side of the business and client work. Organising these processes myself would have taken a great deal of my time, so I am very grateful for the support we received in the early stages of our UK market expansion.”

The UK business is going strong and although 2020 put a strain on everyone, Romy shared that it has also been the best year in the company’s history. The pandemic highlighted just how important public outdoor spaces and parks are for our everyday wellbeing and now there is a sense of urgency to direct more money to urban development. “In Scandinavia and Germany, some of Vestre’s biggest clients come from the public sector whereas in the UK the level of public spending has typically been lower. However, the covid-19 crisis has pushed the UK government to allocate new money for the recovery of town centres and refurbishing outdoor spaces. As investments in public spaces are likely to only increase in 2021, Vestre is in a good position to grab these new market opportunities.”

The next generation furniture factory "The Plus" will open in Magnor, Norway in 2021

What’s next?

What started as a family business more than 70 years ago, has developed into an ambitious project that goes far beyond the pursuit of profit. Vestre is the kind of visionary company that experiments with turning marine plastic waste into furniture or building the world’s most eco-friendly factory in Norway. With exemplary projects, Vestre is proving that profitability and sustainability are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, Vestre has tripled its revenue in recent years and they attribute this success to a strong business philosophy guided by long-term sustainability.

As the world’s population and cities keep growing, safeguarding sustainable urban development is more important than ever. Although we still have a long way to go, Romy thinks that there has been a shift in people’s mindsets. It has been realised that words are no longer enough, but concrete action is needed if we are to build a greener and carbon-neutral future. And in this shift, Vestre will be in a strong position to show others the way.

Furthermore, despite the pandemic Vestre is continuing to keep an eye on new market opportunities such as Texas in the US and Denmark – just to name a couple. With such an inspiring business philosophy as theirs, Goodwille looks forward to seeing what the next move of Vestre will be.

You can keep track of the latest news of Vestre here.

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