The Finnish clothing retail chain Seppala, part of the Stockmann group, has suffered from the entry of international clothing chains into the Finnish market. Swedish chains, in particular, have strengthened their position in Finland.

Although Seppala lifted sales by five per cent last year, the Texmoda Fashion Group, which runs the Moda and Jim & Jill chains, overtook Seppala to become the largest clothing retailer in Finland. Hennes & Mauritz is also rapidly catching up.

Heikki Vaananen, who will soon take over at the helm of Seppala, said that dramatic changes are needed to bring the chain back into the black. He added that it would not be enough to streamline operations, but that a new strategy was also required.

Last time Seppala went through a thorough overhaul was at the end of 1980s when the retail and department store chain Stockmann acquired Seppala from Liisa Lipsanen.

As a result, Seppala showed strong growth and profits soared. But this year Seppala has sunk deep into the red again.