Uteliv, a Swedish outdoor retailer with two stores, has obtained strong support from leading outdoor brands to expand its network with seven more stores in the next six years. Daniel Ringqvist and Oskar Hjerstedt, the two owners of Uteliv, will rapidly open two more stores with their own resources, and then search for more financial backup to push ahead with their expansion.

The retailer's plans enjoy enthusiastic support from many brands, since there are few independent outdoor retailers left in Sweden. The leading player is Naturkompaniet, owned by the Fenix Outdoor group, which has several brands of its own, from Fjällräven to Primus and Hanwag, among others. Some outdoor brands are also increasingly squeezed out of sports stores, which are investing in their private labels. Uteliv, meaning Outdoor Life, could become an interesting and independent alternative.

For the time being, Uteliv distinguishes itself with its clear layout, with white walls and brand-oriented displays. It appeals to active outdoor customers with wide ranges of products for activities from hiking to kayaking and skiing. The stores mostly sell international brands such as The North Face, Haglöfs, Houdini, Meindl and Salomon, among many others. About 60 percent of Uteliv's sales are generated by apparel, against 40 percent for footwear and equipment. Uteliv strongly focuses on service as well, by hiring store employees who are all actively engaged in outdoor activities.

The decision to expand rapidly was partly inspired by reactions to the opening of an enlarged Uteliv store in Linköping. Uteliv was established in this town in 1996 but recently moved to a much larger store of about 700 square meters in the Gyllen shopping center, opposite Intersport and Stadium, drawing an enthusiastic response from suppliers and customers. Its second store, in Norrköping, is much smaller, but the concept for the new stores is to cover between 300 and 500 square meters.

The next Uteliv store is to open later this year, and the fourth is scheduled for early next year. However, the retailer declines to provide details on locations, due to the fact that Naturkompaniet itself has said it was on the lookout for suitable spots to complement its store network.