13 Apr 2018 09:19

Engagement and smooth operation most important

“What’s most important is that you have mutual trust and can meet face to face – that you feel a sense of engagement and a partnership.” So says Lotta Svensson, who together with her brother Anders Svensson runs the building supply firm Woody Bygghandel Stockholm Syd. They are SEB customers both privately and as business owners, and see great advantages of having a total relationship.

The two siblings are the fourth generation of business owners to run the building supply company NA Svensson, which has a long heritage in Nyköping. A few years ago the company expanded its operations with a building supply store in Huddinge and one in Vagnhärad, and the company group now operates under the collective name Woody Bygghandel Stockholm Syd. But in Nyköping it is still the strong local name that remains on the marquee.

Having grown up in a small business family, they have enterprise in their blood, but they have not spent their entire lives only with this. When she was younger, Lotta moved to Gothenburg and studied economics, then moved on to a career with Ikea. Ten years ago she acquired a stake in the company and moved back to Nyköping with her family.

Anders had also moved away to study economics, but in 1993, when Sweden was in the throngs of the real estate crisis, he was forced to discontinue his studies in order to jump in and help save the family firm during the crisis that had spread to the building supply trade.

“We were forced to halve our space and lay off more than half of our employees,” Anders recalls. “It was a tough time, but we learned a lot. Since then business has actually gone without a hitch.”

Not to say that there is a shortage of challenges. Competition is fierce in the building supply trade, with many actors and a growing share of online business. Woody Bygghandel Stockholm Syd has also moved into this realm and has successfully launched its own online retail channel as a complement to its physical stores.

As small business owners the pair have a long and deep relationship with SEB. They have checked out competing banks on a couple occasions, but stayed with SEB on account of its competitive terms, but also because of the strong partnership relation they feel.

“The bank is engaged in what we do,” says Anders. “We trust each other and try to find solutions that are good for both parties. This is the exact same standpoint we have in our relationships with our own customers.”

Both Anders and Lotta also do their private banking with SEB.

“It is a major advantage to be a customer both as a private person and business owner,” says Lotta. “Of course, most things can be handled digitally. But it means a lot knowing we can rely on a personal engagement from the bank.

“What’s most important is that things work smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Time is the one thing you have so little of!”