A proud story - the adventure continues
Janus is one of Europe's leading manufacturers of underwear and middle layers in merino wool. Large quantities of wool socks, rag socks, wool hats and wool mittens also leave the factory every year.
Janusfabrikken is run with will and love. A solid will to survive in Norway characterizes the workforce. The love is strong for textile traditions and expertise, love for customers and consumers who cheer for and support Norway's last knitwear factory of its kind.
The wool underwear factory Janus is the company no one thought would survive. But not long from now we will be celebrating our 130th birthday. Janus has had a remarkable love of wanting to live, and ability to manage it. Production takes place where it has always been: at the factory in Bergen. 20 new employees have been hired in 2023 and new dyeing and knitting machines have been added. The order book is full.
There are few children in Norway who have not worn a Janus garment in kindergarten, at school or during leisure activities. There are also few Norwegian women and men who have not felt the warmth of a Janus garment while skiing or curling up on the sofa on a chilly day. The ability to succeed has been the key to Janus´ success. Days come and days go, but Janus remains. You don't get any closer to living history than the Janus factory. Here, old and new skills go hand in hand. Old and new technology buzz and go side by side. Yes, even the designers often go back to old archives to get inspiration for new collections.
Just in front of the factory is the railway station with the associated outdoor area. Both of these buildings have been completely renovated to their original condition. Inside the station hangs a large collection of advertising drawings from the well-known Bergen artist Audun Hetland. In its time, the railway station (first built in 1899) at Espeland represented the very lifeblood. Goods were brought both to and from the factory by rail. The founder, Anton S. Stephansen, paid for the station himself and paid the dispatcher to make the train stop. Behind the station, the kissing bench has come up again. In the old days, you got your first kiss on it, and it still happens.
At the factory in Bergen, people often think the opposite of what seems logical. One example is that while most other clothing sellers import goods from China, Janus exports goods to China. Other Norwegian wool producers have shut down their production in Norway, while at Janus we invest and grow further. It is positive for Norway to retain jobs and expertise in textile production. Just look at what happened during the pandemic, when Janus started production of masks. This would have been impossible without the machines and expertise being preserved. In addition, the production creates good ripple effects in society when so many employees have their daily work here. The social accounting is large around industrial companies.
Janus is today a proud part of the Odlo group, which in turn is owned by the investment company Monte Rosa Capital AS in Oslo. Owner of Monte Rosa Capital, Hugo Maurstad, decided that Odlo's production of knitted fabric in Portugal and China should be moved to Janus and Norway. In this way, Janus grows even more and Odlo gets to share in the expertise that has been built up at Janus.
Janus is big on selling merino wool products in Norway, but also has significant exports to the Nordic countries.
Janus is also a prominent supplier of wool clothing for soldiers in European countries and for NATO, clothing that is used all year round. Here, the work with JanusPro has been invaluable, the brand for protective clothing and technical multifunctional garments for industry and crafts. Janus supplies underwear and intermediate clothing to, for example, large smelters and the offshore industry.
Janus is growing and recently won one of the company's largest contracts in its history. In recent decades, Janus has built more and more legs to stand on. Today, Janus is present in sports, textiles, groceries, pharmacies, the labor and industrial markets and defense at home and abroad. Smart ways of working, skilled and dedicated employees and large raw material purchases make it possible to sell Norwegian-made woolen clothing in competition with the whole world.
When it has been difficult at Janus for periods, people looked to the founder. He was called a sensible adventurer. He had to be an adventurer, who wanted to start a factory in the desolate landscape that was Espeland at the end of the 19th century. Reasonableness and frugality were characteristics that characterized the first entrepreneur. From the turn of the millennium, a "re-entrepreneurship" has occurred. The focus was on Janus' identity, knowledge, culture and history. At the same time, there was an investment in new technology and increased visibility of the brand, but above all, design and new wool qualities. We took common sense and thrift with us. Today, the factory is characterized by freshness, youthful determination and a great ability to innovate. Many people find it exciting to see a living textile factory. The factory areas have been equipped, not least in view of the growing interest in tours, from both at home and abroad.
We look forward to new generations getting to experience Janus and to soon be able to celebrate the factory's 130th anniversary.