A number of operational and financial risks internally and externally could affect Björn Borg’s results and operations.
Through its operations, Björn Borg is exposed to currency, interest rate, credit and counterparty risks as well as liquidity and refinancing risks. The Board has decided how the Group will manage these risks. See also Note 3 in the Annual report. Furthermore, as the company has noted, the coronavirus outbreak has greatly changed the world around us and is affecting the Björn Borg Group. The extent of the impact is difficult to assess, but the outbreak will have a substantial financial effect on the Björn Borg Group’s business. We are currently seeing a major financial impact on our own stores with fewer visitors and a large decrease in sales. In particular, the company is seeing that overall development and/or regulatory decisions in the countries where the company conducts its business are leading to, or may lead to, reduced demand in the retail market, potential disruptions to the distribution chain, unfavorable currency impacts, payment difficulties by our customers and closed stores with reduced sales as a result. Such effects were already evident by the end of the first quarter 2020 (see interim report for the first quarter 2020 for more information), where we at the end of the first quarter 2020 closed all of our own stores in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as three stores in Finland. The negative financial effects will probably increase in the second quarter 2020. The company’s liquidity remains good despite that the adverse effects mentioned above, because of which the company in the first quarter 2020 utilized part of the SEK 90 million overdraft facility it has with Danske Bank. As an added precautionary measure, the company has applied for, and been granted, an additional short-term loan from Danske Bank of SEK 40 million. Additional measures that the company has implemented to mitigate the financial effects of the coronavirus include short-term layoffs, renegotiated lease payments for the Group’s own stores, an application to defer tax payments and overall reductions in operating expenses.
Björn Borg is active in the highly competitive fashion industry. The company’s vision is to solidify Björn Borg’s position as a global sports fashion brand. Competitors control national and international brands, usually focused on the same markets. They often have substantial financial and human resources. While Björn Borg has so far managed to hold its own in competition with other players, there are no guarantees it will be able to continue to compete with current and future brands.
Björn Borg sells consumer products. There is a risk that the products in question could be associated with safety risks or harm users for other reasons. In certain countries such as the US, this type of product responsibility can lead to significant claims for damages by those affected, which could adversely impact the company’s results and reputation. While it takes preventive measures, Björn Borg faces the risk that the marketing or sale of its products could infringe on a third party’s intellectual property, and it could be accused, for example, of illegally using another party’s trademarked or copyrighted material. Such a claim could leave the company liable for damages that adversely impact results and potentially harm the company’s reputation.
Expansion of operations
The company’s future growth is dependent on the network’s ability to increase sales through existing channels, but also on identifying new geographical markets for the company’s products. The opportunity to find new markets for Björn Borg is partly dependent on factors beyond the company’s control such as economic conditions, trade barriers and access to attractive retail locations on commercially viable terms.
The company’s position and future expansion are dependent in part on independent entrepreneurs that serve as product companies, distributors and franchisees in the network. Despite that Björn Borg generally has effective and comprehensive contractual relationships, directly or indirectly, with outside parties in the network, these agreements can be terminated and there are no guarantees that similar agreements can be signed. The termination of a collaboration with one or more entrepreneurs in the network could adversely impact the company’s growth and results. Björn Borg’s distribution model with external distributors – both its own and licensees’ – also creates the risk that these external parties do not make the investments or take the measures that are needed, for example, to achieve certain planned growth targets or certain types of changes.
The company’s operations are affected by shifts in trends and fashions and consumer preferences with regard to design, quality and price point. Positioning relative to various competitors’ products is critical. In general, there is a positive connection between fashion level and business risk, with higher fashion involving a shorter product lifecycle and higher business risk. Sudden changes in fashion trends may reduce sales for some collections.
Like all retail sales, the sale of the company’s products is affected by changes in economic conditions. A growing economy has a positive effect on household finances, which is reflected in spending patterns. A downturn in the economy has the opposite effect, which was especially evident in recent years, when unstable demand in the market affected the Group’s underwear and sports apparel sales. The company’s profitability is also affected by changes in global commodity prices and by increased production, payroll and transport costs in the countries where the company buys its products.
Protection for the Björn Borg trademark
The Björn Borg trademark is crucial to the company’s position and success. Copyright infringements and distribution of pirated copies damage the Björn Borg brand, the reputational capital of its products and Björn Borg’s profitability. In addition to the risks associated with pirating, the opportunity to expand to new markets could be affected if, for example, a third party in another country has registered a trademark similar to Björn Borg. The company works continuously with trademark protection. There are no guarantees, however, that the measures taken to protect the Björn Borg trademark are sufficient.
Furthermore, the Björn Borg trademark is associated with Björn Borg the person. The trademark’s position is therefore dependent to some degree on whether Björn Borg himself is associated with the core values in the brand’s platform.
The company’s reputation among customers is built on a consistent experience with Björn Borg products in the markets where they are available. Björn Borg products should be presented in a way that reflects the values that Björn Borg represents. If the parties in the network take any action that presents Björn Borg products in a way that conflicts with the company’s market positioning or the values the brand represents, Björn Borg’s reputation could be damaged. Examples of reputational damage include negative publicity about working conditions in the factories that manufacture Björn Borg products, prohibited chemicals, safety concerns associated with products or allegations of sexist or misogynous advertising. In the long term, reputational damage will harm the company’s growth and results.