April 9 - Scandinavian chic is soaring in popularity around the world, with TV shows and furniture shops leading the way. Ciara Sutton meets the new kid on the block - Danish retailer Tiger which is opening two new shops every week.
From TV shows to furniture shops, Scandinavian chic has never been more popular. Denmark's most recent offering causing a stir is Tiger. Dubbed the "posh pound shop" in the UK, the products - everything from toys and homeware to cosmetics and chocolate - cost 5 pounds or less. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA SUTTON, SAYING: "They don't retail online, there's no big marketing campaign and they don't hold any sales. Instead Tiger is betting its success on in store Scandinavian style." It seems to be paying off. Last year pre-tax profits for Tiger Retail UK surged 60 percent to 2.5 million pounds. Sales increased from less than 15 million to more than 21 million pounds. UK Managing Director, Philip Bier, says the next goal is to more than triple the number of stores to 100. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK MANAGING DIRECTOR PHILIP BIER, SAYING: "There's a Danish word called Hoogli, and it means a combination of friendly, fun and cosy all in one word. And we have long winters in Scandinavia where it is dark. And a lot of the things we do are about making those long winters Hoogli, which is fun, entertaining and cosy. That is one of the reasons that when you come into Tiger or you come into Ikea, you will find a lot of candles, you will find a lot of wooden toys, you will find a lot of activities." Loud music helps create that atmosphere. Tiger's founder - a former market trader - still selects the playlist even though the chain is now opening 2 new shops a week and has over 300 stores in 20 countries. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK MANAGING DIRECTOR PHILIP BIER, SAYING: "One of the results of the recession is that the customer has become a lot more sophisticated, and say actually I will go to any shop. I will go to the shop that's got the best offering. And we are very happy to compete at that level because that's a level playing field and as long as you are good at what you do, you will be fine." Tiger's products, while designed in Denmark, are produced in China. But working conditions in every factory are personally monitored by a Tiger employee It all helps build an increasingly popular brand says Conlumino retail analyst, Maureen Hinton. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RETAIL ANALYST AT CONLUMINO, MAUREEN HINTON, SAYING: "It's very different, it's very unique. It's fun. It offers very attractive product at very affordable prices. So I think it's really filled a niche." Tiger's roaring success is also helping revive flagging high streets. That's certainly welcome in the UK where 40,000 stores remain empty.