GK-pediaGekås’ history

Gekås’ history

Here you can find out about the history behind Gekås. Everything from the happy relationship that brought founder Göran Karlsson to Ullared and on through the years to the big yellow superstore (the size of several football pitches) that it is now. New owners, record figures, “bus aunts”, expansion, accommodation, food outlets, royal visits and TV series. Take a peek at Gekås’ unique history!

  • 1963
    Gekås opens Love brought Göran Karlsson to Ullared. Together with his fiancée Margareta Björklund he opened a store on the ground floor in a house in Ullared in 1963. In the early days, Gekås Manufaktur did not do particularly well, in spite of the cut-price products featured in its ads. After two years it had a turnover of SEK 80,000 (75,000?), an amount which is about the same as the superstore currently takes in less than two minutes at its checkouts.
  • 1967
    House coats and ‘bus aunts’ House coats for SEK 3.75 became a bestseller when Gekås moved into the old station house in the village. The charter buses started rolling in and the business took off; the term "busstanter (bus aunties)" was coined, characterised by first queuing for the toilets, then for the store and finally for the tills.
  • 1971
    New premises Gekås moved to larger (current) premises just across the square. Half of the premises was screened off using tarpaulins to hide the unused space inside the store but these would soon be removed.
  • 1976
    The tent warehouse catches fire The tent warehouse caught fire and products amounting to more than SEK 10 million were destroyed. Christmas sales were not affected. Through decisive action, team spirit and common sense, Göran and his employees ensured that sales continued as normal.
  • 1979
    The Gekås phenomenon The press compared Göran Karlsson's company to IKEA and Kapp-Ahl. Business was blooming, turnover had reached SEK 80 million, the premises had been extended twice and nationally the company was the fifth largest in its industry. The Gekås phenomenon was a fact.
  • 1981
    Gekås blockaded On 11 November the retail employees' union decided to set up a blockade outside Gekås as Göran Karlsson refused to sign a collective agreement. The employees supported Göran and the conflict continued for a year, receiving immense attention in the press, resulting in even more customers making their way to Ullared.
  • 1988
    25-year anniversary! 25-year anniversary!
  • 1991
    New owners at Gekås Göran Karlsson sold the company to six employees. They managed the corporate philosophy well and also invested in widening the range and improving quality levels. These were developments that were appreciated by customers. Turnover amounted to SEK 718,933 million this year.
  • 1994
    Breaks through the one billion barrier Gekås' new owners made their first major investment and the superstore grew by an additional 10,000 square metres. Gekås break through the one billion barrier this year.
  • 1996
    Visitor record The first measured visitor record of 12,400 visitors to the superstore is set.
  • 1998
    Central warehouse built The central warehouse, Sönneräng, which covers 7,300 square metres was built.
  • 2000
    Boris becomes new CEO The superstore grew by a further 11,500 square metres. Boris Lennerhov was appointed CEO.
  • 2001
    Gekås buys campsite Gekås acquired the campsite in Ullared. As the campsite is used by Gekås customers, we may as well manage the facility. To begin with, there were only two employees on the payroll.
  • 2002
    Visits and sales A total of 3.3 million people visited the superstore this year and sales amounted to SEK 2 billion.
  • 2003
    Superstore and visitors The superstore had an average of 11,000 daily visitors this year. There was 15,000 square metres of retail space, which corresponds to three football pitches.
  • 2004
    Extension of superstore The superstore was extended by 4,000 square metres. This increased the total retail space to 19,000 square metres, which corresponds to four football pitches. The number of tills was also increased, to 63. Two new departments opened in the extension: riding and lighting, as well as two cafes for customers.
  • 2005
    More activities around Gekås The peripheral activities around the superstore and our camping facilities expanded. Examples of this include an electric train between the superstore and the campsite, helicopter trips, hot tubs, a BBQ hut and a children's theatre.
  • Record We hit a new visitor record in 2005: 24,700 visitors on 27 July
  • 2006
    Sweden’s best workplace Gekås Ullared came fourth in the competition to find Sweden's best place to work (Sveriges bästa arbetsplats). To celebrate, all staff were invited to the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, travelling on 16 chartered tourist buses.
  • Sunday opening A trial run of keeping the superstore open on a Sunday took place for the first time on 18 June. An "Open house" with various activities and a very successful evacuation drill was organised.
  • Record In 2006, we reached a new sales record of SEK 20.1 million on 17 November. A total of 3.7 million customers visited the superstore during 2006, which was another record.
  • 2007
    Record year and Boris goes on the radio A record year, the year in which Boris Lennerhov went on the radio to discourage customers from visiting. Gekås Ullared's total turnover in 2007 ended at SEK 2,820 million. In 2007 we reached a new sales record of SEK 20.7 million on 16 November and a visitor record of 26,200 customers at the superstore on 23 July. No less than 3.8 million customers visited the superstore this year. Lyssna här >>.  
  • Large trolley order New shopping trolleys purchased from Germany. The largest order was for 5,000 trolleys.
  • Motor museum opens In May, Göran Karlssons Motormuseum opened up in Ullared and had more than 30,000 visitors before the end of the year.
  • 2008
    Sunday opening in the superstore From and including September 2008, we started opening the superstore on Sundays, which was a major success. Turnover in 2008 ended at SEK 2,952 million.
  • Record number of buses On 8 November we reached a new record for the number of visiting tourist buses at the superstore: a total of 65 buses, full of visitors to Ullared who were keen to shop. A total of 3.9 million customers visited the superstore during the year. In 2008, we also became a co-owner of a biogas plant together with Eon and Falkenberg municipality.
  • 2009
    Premiere of ‘Ullared’ The "Ullared" TV series premiered on Channel 5 on 2 November. It was a success and the first episode was viewed by more than 1 million Swedes, with the attention resulting in visitor numbers increasing by 2,000 people per day.
  • Bridge at Gekås Village The bridge at the cabin village was inaugurated, connecting Road 154 from Falkenberg and the Check-in with Gekås.
  • Shopping bus The shopping bus started operating between Gekås and the superstore. A free bus service is provided for guests in Gekås Village, so now they do not have to drive to the store.
  • Record The superstore reached a new visitor record in July with 533,000 visitors in just one month. A new sales record of SEK 20.7 million was set on Friday 9 October and the entire week, week 41, became our best sales week ever, totalling SEK 107.1 million in sales. 24 November was a historic day for the company when we passed annual sales of SEK 3 billion.
  • 2010
    Superstore becomes even bigger Gekås Ullared became even bigger this year! On 28 June, the inauguration of another football pitch's worth of retail space (now totalling five football pitches) was celebrated with great fanfare. In September, it was also time to open the superstore's new Floors 2 and 3.
  • Cafe Bar opens In September, the Cafe Bar opened to the public and had sales of SEK 7.6 million during the year.
  • Hairdressing salon and trolley park The superstore opened its own hairdressers, Hår & Häpna, and trolley park for 300 trolleys on Floor 2.
  • Success for ‘Ullared’ series In 2010, the second season of the Ullared TV series was shown on Channel 5.
  • Record sales and bus numbers During autumn 2010, we managed to beat our sales record from 2009 nine times. The peak occurred on 10 October when our customers spent SEK 25.7 on shopping in just one day. 120 million unique products passed through our tills and 4.5 million visitors spent just over SEK 3.8 billion altogether. A bus record was set on 30 October with 81 buses arriving.
  • Historic queue at Gekås We experienced the longest entrance queue in the history of the superstore on 30 October. The queue snaked 1.4 kilometres through the village and the waiting time inside the superstore was 3.5 hours...
  • Motor museum closes In December the decision was made to close and decommission Göran Karlssons Motormuseum due to dwindling visitor numbers.
  • Pharmacy in Ullared The pharmacy also became part of the group this year.
  • New CEO of catering business

    Pernilla Hagman was appointed the first CEO of the restaurant company.

  • 2011
    Restaurant opens

    Our own restaurant was opened on Floor 3 of the superstore on 24 February. During the year, the Gekås restaurant, the Cafe Bar, cafés and staff restaurant had annual sales of nearly SEK 70 million.

  • Ullared lottery launched The Ullared lottery launched on 1 June, a collaboration between Gekås Ullared and Miljonlotteriet. The Ullared lottery had prizes ranging from SEK 20 to SEK 1 million.
  • Kennels open Ullared's dog daycare facility opened its doors on 27 June, a service that is in demand with everyone who brings their dog when going shopping in Ullared.
  • Visitor record On Monday 25 July an all-time visitor record was set at Ullared, with 29,500 customers visiting the superstore and spending SEK 24 million.
  • Daily record A new daily sales record was set on 15 October with sales of SEK 29.8 million. This is a record increase of more than SEK 4.1 million compared to the previous year's sales record.
  • Sales record Wednesday 7 December was a magical day for all of us at Gekås Ullared, as at 12:45pm we passed SEK 4 billion in sales during 2011. When we added up sales for the year, we ended at SEK 4,135 million which was an increase of 10% compared to the previous year. The number of visitors during the year increased to 4.6 million.
  • 2012
    Textiles recycling opens Textilreturen was inaugurated in Ullared on 15 May. Textilreturen is a collaboration between Gekås Ullared and Human Bridge.
  • New products in the superstore The kidswear department is given its own floor in the superstore. When we introduced pick 'n' mix sweets to our food range on 28 August, it was big news and greatly appreciated by many of our customers.
  • Sports Bar opens Our long-awaited sports bar with space for 150 seated guests launched on 13 October. In this shopping oasis you can also sit down for a bite to eat or something to drink and take a break from shopping.
  • Sales record Saturday 13 October was also the day on which Gekås Ullared beat its sales record and passed the magical sales limit of SEK 30 million in a single day for the first time ever.
  • New CEO at Gekås Village Sara Ståhle was appointed the first CEO of Gekås Village.
  • 2013
    50th anniversary Gekås celebrates its 50th anniversary with parties for suppliers and employees, a collection of commemorative items was also designed and sold at the superstore.
  • Sweden’s first shopping hotel Launch of Sweden's first shopping hotel. The hotel is situated in the centre of Ullared and has 115 rooms and conference facilities for up to 40 people.
  • Gekås buys Harrys In January, Gekås took over the Harrys pub & restaurant in Ullared, in order to coordinate the restaurant business with the newly built hotel.
  • King Carl XVI visits Gekås In 2013, King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated 40 years on the throne with a royal procession through Sweden. One of the stops in Halland was Gekås Ullared, where the royal couple got to learn a bit about the company and took a tour through the superstore.
  • New CEO for superstore Malin Helde is appointed CEO of the superstore.
  • Record numbers of visits and sales A new visitor record was set on Tuesday 30 July with 27,500 visitors to the superstore. On Saturday 5 October, the sales figures reached SEK 33 million, which was another new daily sales record.
  • 2014
    Salad bar and Lounge Floor 3 was rebuilt at the start of the year to make more room for the Cafe Bar and the latest addition, Lugn & Ro, a lounge where you can take a break from the shopping crowds and sit down in a quiet environment. The Salad Bar opened its doors in March. This provided another alternative for hungry shoppers, in the form of a salad buffet with the option of take-away food.
  • Ullared plane takes off again On Monday 10 November the first Ullared plane took off from Skellefteå with 174 expectant shoppers on board. The fully chartered plane landed in Jönköping, where passengers jumped onto buses that took them on to Ullared for shopping and hotel accommodation.
  • Sales record For three consecutive days, Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November, sales records were set for each day. On Saturday, the total sales record was beaten with customers spending a total of SEK 34.65 million.
  • 2015
    Record year A visitor record was set at the superstore on 21 July with 28,900 visitors in just one day. A sales record of SEK 37.3 million was set on 7 November.
  • New CEO for group Jan Wallberg takes over from Boris Lennerhov as Group CEO in January.
  • Play Centre opens The Play Centre on Floor 4 is launched in March.
  • New cabins for Gekås Village 48 terraced cabins have been completed in Gekås.
  • Premiere for new TV series The new TV series "Ullared – jakten på storsäljaren" premiered in spring.
  • Adventure park in Gekås Village The Upzone Adventure Park opened in Gekås in August.
  • Ullared plane takes off from Norway The Ullared plane has daily departures from Stockholm and also launched in Norway with departures from Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim.
  • Hand in Hand The work on sustainability issues has been further developed through support and projects in India via Hand in Hand.
  • Harrys sold Harrys pub & restaurant is run again by new owners.
  • 2016
    Biggest ever extension The biggest extension in history has kicked off. An entire hillside, among other things, will be blasted to make way for the superstore extension. An undercover car park is also being built, roadworks undertaken and roundabouts are being developed together with new entrances to Gekås parking areas. The Swedish Transport Administration builds a new road through Ullared.
  • Record number of buses The 'Bus Day' on 6 November with 107 buses from Rolfs Flyg & Bussar arriving with passengers who were keen to shop, set a new record in the midst of the low winter season!
  • Hotel with conference facilities and breakfast room The hotel is adding an extension and expanding to include a conference suite and breakfast room and now offers food and drink.
  • Ullared TV series wins prize The TV series "Ullared – jakten på storsäljaren" wins the TV prize in Cannes - International Format Awards for the Best Brand-Driven Format. (Best Brand-Driven Format).
  • New CEO of catering business New CEO for the catering business Restaurangbolaget AB, Åsa Keller Wannem.

What does the future hold for Gekås?

Gekås Ullared is currently carrying out its biggest-ever expansion. This means that we will be able to offer even better shopping, accommodation, food, events and activities – so that our customers will have an even better shopping experience!