Wenaasgruppen has its origin in a clothing company established in 1931 by Lars Wenaas, the grandfather and great grandfather of the current owners. In the village of Måndalen in the district of Romsdal, he started production in the basement of his residence, where his son Sigmund and his wife Lidveig took over and continued the textile business in 1954. Their sons, Lars and Nils, gradually entered the family business in the 70’ies, and contributed to the development of the Sigmund Wenaas Konfeksjonsfabrikk AS into a major player in the work wear business.
In 1975, the company launched its own brand, its own models and its own sales channels after having operated contract manufacturing since its start-up. Towards the end of the 1970’ies, the company built the most modern factory for the production of work clothes in Europe. The next 15-20 years were characterized by strong growth and good earnings, and during this period the company acquired 16 textile companies.
In 1996, Wenaas AS was listed on the stock exchange, and towards the end of the 1990’ies, one of the most modern distribution centers for work clothes and protective equipment in Europe was build adjacent to the main office in Måndalen. A few years later, Wenaas AS merged with Kansas AS, Denmark’s biggest producer of work clothes. The investment company Axcel and others bought 87% of the shares. The remaining 13% of the shares were sold by Wenaasgruppen to Industrikapital in 2006. The brothers parted company that same year, when Lars took over Wenaasgruppen and Nils started his own business.
In parallel with the strong performance of the textile company, Wenaasgruppen focused on hotel properties. From 1990 to 2018 Wenaasgruppen purchased and developed a total of 56 hotel properties, including the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Oslo, three Radisson hotels in Copenhagen and the biggest hotel in Northern Europe, the Park Inn by Radisson Pribaltiyskaya Hotel, in St Petersburg. During the years 2005 to 2007, the Group sold 18 of the hotel properties in Norway and Denmark. At the same time the Group adopted a new strategy for future investments, with focus on hotels with over 200 rooms and good locations in major European cities. The strategy was further sharpened in 2015, and Wenaasgruppen has sold 11 smaller hotels in Norway during the past three years. At present, after the acquisition of Don Giovanni Hotel Prague, the Group ownes 26 hotels with a total of 10,978 rooms.
Throughout its history, asset management has been a key business area for the Group. Its purpose is to invest the Group´s liquid assets in stocks, bonds and fixed income securities.
The Group’s alpine ski resort business comprises two alpine skiing destinations. The Alpine ski resorts at Oppdal and Bjorli will be further developed in line with the market developments. Vassfjellet ski resort by Trondheim was sold in 2018.
The shipping business was established in 2004 and had an active period until 2010. Since then, the Group has sold most of its interests, and shipping is no longer a focus area. At the end of the year, Wenaasgruppen owned five major and minor interests in various shipping companies, with a total of five ships.
Through its subsidiary Wenaas Nordic AS, the Group made ten acquisitions of small and medium sized companies in the sports and leisure equipment industry. Wenaas Nordic had an annual turnover of about NOK 370 million in 2016 and was one of the leading vendors to the sports industry in Norway and Sweden. Wenaasgruppen sold their investment in Wenaas Nordic in June 2017.