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Silvan's major journey of transformation

When Denmark’s leading building materials retailer Silvan was acquired by the Aurelius Group, it was the beginning of a major journey of transformation – a journey that has been both successful and challenging. Supported by a new strategy and a flexible financing partner, Silvan managed to show continued positive results even during the Coronavirus pandemic, which initially became one of the company's major challenges. Today, the numbers look better than ever.

The journey of transformation was already underway when the pandemic hit in early 2020. The world suddenly stopped, and restrictions and lockdowns to reduce the spread of disease forced everyone to re-evaluate things that had previously been taken for granted. Virtually all sectors and industries were affected in some way. Habits and previous routines were challenged, and as a result, digitalization accelerated at a pace few could have imagined.  

Silvan, one of the oldest and best-known retailers of building and DIY project materials in Denmark, is a good example of a challenge becoming an opportunity. The pandemic boosted the market for building materials, as more and more people had time for home projects. At the same time, Denmark's strict restrictions meant that Silvan needed to offer new ways to meet customers and find alternatives to traditional retail.  

“We had already initiated a transition program and the pandemic brought with it hundreds of new problems to solve. We needed to ensure safe and secure retail process, so we redesigned the stores while increasing the focus on e-commerce, which in turn increased the need for IT development. For example, we had to be sure to update our inventory balance continuously during the day, and improve how we marketed products online,” explains Jan Becker, CEO of Silvan and Operating Partner at Aurelius.  

Silvan's growth and performance for the 2020 and 2021 financial years were impressive. This was due largely to the transformation journey that had already started a few years earlier, when the European investment company Aurelius Group acquired the company. Before that, Silvan had gone through a tougher period with less successful investments, and had lost its strategic focus.  

“We saw Silvan’s potential and wanted to actualize it by developing their reputable brand and updating the store concept, product offerings, service and operations. At the same time, we addressed the existing profitability challenges, which gave many banks pause. Even though we always had money in the bank, the big banks couldn’t see beyond our negative operating profit at the time,” says Jan Becker.  

Norion Bank has extensive experience in working closely with its customers. Through a solid lending process and analysis, Norion Bank was also able to see the company’s potential and opportunities. Collaboration and continuous dialog between company management, owners and Norion Bank were crucial to Silvan's journey of transformation.  

“Norion Bank has always supported Silvan. They looked closely at what we were doing at Silvan, at our business and what we needed. The biggest advantage of Norion Bank as a partner is that they work closely with the business. They offer fast and transparent decision-making in a way that the big banks can’t match. Their commitment and understanding of Silvan provided extra comfort at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, when uncertainty was at its peak. In conclusion, the stable support has allowed us to overcome several challenges," says Jan Becker.  

After a pandemic that lingered much longer than anyone expected, Silvan continues its transformation journey together with Aurelius and Norion Bank – and financially, Silvan continues to report a positive trend. The pandemic accelerated Silvan's transformation and the business has been digitalized to a greater extent than previously expected, which has successfully mitigated the impact of Denmark's extensive lockdowns.  

“We’re now moving forward quickly, and our numbers look better than ever. We haven’t reached our goal yet, and we look forward to continuing to develop Silvan and reach its full potential,” concludes Jan Becker.