Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson is ramping up his return to the UK high street through Danish furniture retailer Norr11 after being acquitted of fraud.
Norr11 is opening its first UK showroom on South Molton Street in Mayfair today after receiving investment from Guru Capital, which is owned by Jóhannesson’s wife Ingibjorg Palmadottir.
Jóhannesson was once one of the most influenctial people in British retail through his ownership of companies including Iceland and Hamleys.
London-based venture capital business Guru Capital acquired a 50% stake in Norr11 in June of this year as it seeks to quickly become a well-established brand in the UK.
Norr11 co-founder Jesper Sjølund said: “I think Norr11 is a part of Jón Ásgeir’s big plans and he sees a lot of potential in our business to get this brand very well known in a short time.
“Customers love our furniture and the reason Jón Ásgeir has picked us out is because we are new upcoming company – it is the potential that he sees.”
Jóhannesson will bring an extensive knowledge of the UK high street to Nor11 from his time running investment vehicle Baugur.
Baugur’s acquisitions included grocer Iceland, House of Fraser, Debenhams, toy store Hamleys and a string of fashion groups, and it also held stakes in Woolworths, Marks & Spencer, Sports Direct and French Connection.
However, Jóhannesson left the UK high street after Baugur’s UK arm was placed into administration after restructuring talks collapsed.
He revealed he would make a return to the UK high street this summer after being acquitted of all charges in relation to fraudulently extracting money from Glitnir bank against the value of Aurum, the owner of jewellery shops including Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb
Nor11 hopes to grow rapidly in the UK, primarily by opening concessions in large retailers.
Sjølund said: “Our plan is not to open a lot of showrooms ourselves, it is to find partners who want to open showrooms with us or sell our products. In the UK we are looking for John Lewis or other big companies who want to sell our products.”
Jóhannesson sits in on monthly board meetings and Sjølund added his investor “is coming up with ideas on a daily basis about how to get this new company growing”.
It is understood Guru Capital has also taken stakes in butcher Muddy Boots, upmarket men’s barber Murdock and luxury brand Moncrief.