Skip to content

Glory days gone, Seppälä clothing chain bankrupt at 87

After nearly nine decades selling clothes in Finland, the Baltics and even Manhattan, Seppälä has sought protection from its creditors.

Seppälä once had 220 shops in several countries. Image: Seppälä

One of Finland's oldest clothing retail chains, Seppälä, has filed for bankruptcy. Primarily known as a women's wear retailer, it was established in 1930.

Seppälä was long owned by Stockmann, which sold it off its 82 remaining stores in the spring of 2015. They had suffered losses of 44 million euros over the previous two years, with outlets in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania shuttered. The company still has 13 shops in Estonia.

Lindex exec takes over

The buyers were ex-Nordea banker Timo Melentjeff and his wife Eveliina Melentjeff.

Eveliina Melentjeff, who had previously worked for another Stockmann-owned apparel chain, Lindex, took over as CEO.

Their efforts to resuscitate the business, including a reorganisation launched last spring, failed to pay off. The restructuring plan was aimed at closing 39 stores, about half of the total.

Helsinki District Court placed Seppälä under bankruptcy on Friday at the request of tax authorities and the firm itself.

In March, Eveliina Melentjeff  told Yle that the chain's situation was "difficult but not hopeless".

Kouvola to Manhattan

Edward Seppälä opened his first menswear store in Kouvola, south-east Finland, in 1930, expanding into women's apparel in the 1940s when his wife Elvi Seppälä joined the business. She took over after his death in 1958.

By the 1980s, Seppälä was opening shops in New York and Hannover, but these were short-lived, as was a foray into Sweden around the turn of the millennium. The chain fared better in the Baltics and Russia, eventually owning a peak of 220 stores.

The company now employs 370 people in Finland.

Stockmann, meanwhile, has primarily blamed its recent slump in profits on poorer performance by its Lindex fashion subsidiary.