After a successful turnaround, Orio Group was sold to Hedin Mobility Group and is now in the right environment for continued growth.
Gustaf Ljunggren has just completed an assignment as interim CEO of Orio, a company active in spare parts for SAAB cars and logistics solutions for third-party customers. The company has subsidiaries in Europe and USA, and was previously owned by the Swedish state.
Gustaf has always had an interest in leading organizations. For the first 16 years of his career, he was at Unilever in various leadership roles, but as he moved further and further away from the operational business and the level of internal politics increased, he decided to leave the company. He moved on to CEO/MD roles in Inflight Services’ duty-free sales, Essior which is the world’s largest eyewear manufacturer with responsibility for Sweden and Norway, and Envirotainer, where he led a strong global growth. For a couple of years he worked as a consultant and deal advisor for former clients and financial stakeholders, but as he lacked the operational responsibility, he chose to take on the role as interim CEO of Orio in 2019.
When he came to Orio, the Swedish state had tried to sell the company several times without success. As SAAB cars are no longer produced and the number of cars decreases by 10-15% per year, it is a business that will decrease over time if nothing was done. There was a need for a CEO who could have a proactive dialogue with the board, review the goals, propose a new strategic plan going forward, and review the competence needs and culture in the company. And last but not least, deliver results on the set goals and strategies.
“I am driven by working results-oriented together with people and delivering results with my teams.”
His three years at Orio can be divided into four parts. In order to sell the business, it needed to get back on its feet, and Gustaf started by leading a turnaround by, among other things, growing the business in 3PL solutions for third-party customers, and generate profitability in the spare parts business and in the group as a whole. In the next two steps, it was a matter of creating financial stability and refining the company, both the business that already existed, and by increasing the value for potential buyers. Their property in Nyköping, a large plot where only a fifth was used, was developed, and a joint venture was formed with a real estate company that, together with Orio, will develop the rest of the plot into a logistics park.
“We went from being a spare parts company with logistics solutions, to becoming a logistics company with sales of spare parts.”
In the fourth and final part, they identified and found a buyer by proactively seek companies where there were synergies. A dialogue with Hedin Mobility Group was initiated, and a sales process was began. When the process was almost complete, it became an ownership issue and was handed over to the Government Office. The sales process, mediated by Gustaf, was very complex with an experienced businessman as a buyer, the state as the owner, political issues and an election that was approaching. The sales process was completed in June 2022.
“The company now is in an environment that fits like a glove. Hedin Mobility Group can use the expertise, know-how and experience that Orio has, add countries to its markets and get a 3PL solution that can serve their entire business.”
Until a new CEO could start, Gustaf stayed to make sure that it was a good handover for the team and business. Now they have secured the growth of the business in Nyköping and ensured that SAAB owners can continue to buy original spare parts.
What is most important in your leadership?
“The most important thing is to get the organization on board. When I enter a new organization, I listen to the employees to get to know the current situation. At Orio, the financial situation was bad and they had promised things that they could not hold over a long period of time. It was important to establish credibility, do the right things and set a clear goals and milestones. Everyone needs to understand where we are, and a good way is to have key persons who have been involved in setting the goals and can act as ambassadors for the change. You must also be backed up by your management team and the board. I usually paint a picture of where we come from, where we are now, and where we want to be when the goal is reached. For me, it is also important that everyone feels proud and that they are part of a winning team. Together we have saved this fine original SAAB brand for the SAAB car owners – the car is a gem!”
How do you make sure that you have a good work-life balance?
“I commuted to Orio in Nyköping, and the trips have given me time to slow down before and after work. I get energy at work by reaching the goals together with the team, when we go from scepticism to pride and joy. Turning a business around and being able to deliver positive numbers gives me new strength. But the most important thing is of course to spend time with friends and family!”