From wadmal to Burberry
According to the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), only 13% of family businesses survive the transition from second to third generation. But in Ålesund, the fifth generation of Dale Group is now ready to take over.
Th Dale was founded by Siri Dale Reichel’s great-grandfather, Thore Dale, in 1889. He had tried his hand at fishing, but found it far too cold for his liking, so he started selling clothes to fishermen in Ålesund instead.
“Grandfather sold wadmal trousers and Devold shirts, but in 1904, when Ålesund burned down, he lost his shop and livelihood.”
But Thore Dale was an enterprising man. After the fire destroyed the town, he built a townhouse at Kongens gate 10. It was a four-storey building, with the shop on the ground floor, storerooms on the next two floors, and the family living on the top floor.
“That’s how people did things in those days. A classic shopkeeper’s family.”
-If you make too many radical changes, you can lose a lot.Siri Dale Reichel
Four modern shop concepts
Nowadays, Dale Group has four shops: Dale Concept Store, Dale Trend and two Nuvaa shops. The shops are in Ålesund town centre, Ålesund Storsenter and AMFI Moa shopping centres, so they are represented both on the high street and in shopping centres. They also have a popular and thriving online shop – daleplus.no.
“Are you mad?”
Back in 1973, Siri’s father, Anton O. Dale, built Moa Varehus with three other shopkeepers. This has since become Amfi Moa. He saw back then that many of his customers wanted to live a little further inland, which meant that they needed somewhere to do their shopping.
Ålesund Storsenter was built in 1987, so moving their shops from Kongens gate to a shopping centre in Ålesund town centre was a natural step for Dale. According to Siri Dale Reichel, customers enjoy the comfortable climate of a shopping centre.
“When we moved to Ålesund Storsenter, people said: ‘Are you mad? You can’t move from Kongens gate – you’ve always been there.’ I thought differently then, and I still do. Customers never stop moving, and we have to move to where the customers are. That’s why we also have our daleplus.no online shop.”
When Dale left the Match chain, they had already developed a new concept.
“I was so lucky, because it coincided with my daughter coming home. She took over the entire concept, and it’s been amazingly successful.”
They decided to call the new concept Nuvaa, inspired by Ålesund’s history as an old Art Nouveau town. The daughter is Nana-Marie Dale Reichel, who has a solid background which prepared her for developing concepts, and she has now taken over the running of all Dale’s shops. She studied in Copenhagen and Herning, was an exchange student in Paris, and studied economics at the BI Norwegian Business School. After she graduated, she worked for a year in the Gucci store in Oslo, and then in the Tatler store. In Copenhagen, she worked for Burberry while she was studying. This ties in with Dale Group’s history of supplying Burberry to Sunnmøre for more than fifty years. After this career-building CV odyssey, Nana-Marie Dale Reichel got a job with the Varner group, where she worked as a buyer for Cubus.
“When the pandemic entered its second year, Nana-Marie said: ‘You know what, I’m coming home. Ålesund is a much nicer place to be in a pandemic than Oslo.’ So I got her back home with me. I was so lucky. As soon as she arrived, my husband and I cracked open a bottle of champagne. It’s wonderful to know that I’ll be able to pass this legacy on. She really got stuck in, and she’s incredibly organised, so she brought a lot of momentum to the business.”
-We are a kind of training institution. We have been for many years, and it’s important to create a good culture.Siri Dale Reichel
For the Nuvaa shops, they have brought in clothing brands and collections from Norwegian and Scandinavian designers. There is also a big emphasis on accessories which appeal to the younger target groups, like hair accessories, handbags, sunglasses, jewellery and skincare products – strategically displayed in the shops on exciting islands.
Mum Siri is also grateful that Nana-Marie has been careful to preserve Dale’s DNA.
“She has been very good at not getting rid of established ranges, and I think that has been part of the recipe for success. If you make too many radical changes, you can lose a lot.”
Work is fun
The staff have always been very important to Siri Dale Reichel. She wants everyone to enjoy their work.
“On the street, I often meet people who came in to help as extra staff, and they say: ‘Oh, I had such a great time working for you. It was so lovely, and I learned so much.’ We are a kind of training institution. We have been for many years, and it’s important to create a good culture. ‘Work is fun’ is our mantra, and we have it on the wall in the back rooms of all of our shops.”