Four former sales executives tell E24 that XXL stores produce sales figures so as not to be taken for misleading marketing. Command for XXL initiates internal investigations.
– It was often cheated with larger, expensive goods that could be difficult to sell, says Christian Sandmo Olsen (24).
He is one of four former sales executives at three different XXL department stores who have told E24 about long-term and systematic production of sales figures in order to advertise with advance notice in new offer newspapers (DM's).
A sales manager has overall responsibility for a department and is part of the department store management group.
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The cheat is that employees buy a product themselves and then return it immediately afterwards. So, if you look up the product in XXL's computer system, the store appears to have sold more items than it actually did, the sales executives explain.
In this way, employees must have made sure that the sports shop is not taken for violation of the marketing law in connection with new offers.
When advertising with pre-paid, it is required to be real. The store should be able to show a certain number of sales of a product in time against a recent campaign.
– If the item has not been sold at a sale price before the sale, the marketing is misleading, says department director Jo Gjedrem of the Consumer Authority to E24.
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The supermarket manager pulled the card himself
The initiative was often taken at management meetings between the department store manager and the heads of each department, says Sandmo Olsen.
– Here we went through next week's customer newspaper. Then it might be that the department store manager or DM manager in a department was told by XXL's purchasing department that it was important to make sure we had sold some specific items. Often it was written in the DM letter where we got to "here we must be able to document a sale in each department store". Then it was decided that either the store manager pulled the card himself or that one of the sales executives did, he says.
The 24-year-old worked for four years as sales manager in a XXL department store in Oslo. He worked in XXL until 2018 and says he experienced price cheating until he quit.
Encouraged regional gatherings
The other sources have talked to E24 about the assumption of anonymity.
A former sales manager at a department store in Akershus says he saw the price cut happen five to six times a year in the department he worked at.
– This was usually done with the large, heavy products, such as treadmills. This was approved by the department store manager, and then it was department heads and full-time employees who took care of price cheats, he says.
He worked until February last year, confirming that he saw and heard about the practice until he quit.
A former sales manager at a department store in Hordaland says price cheating was something that was widely talked about in regional journals, meetings where sales managers from various XXL department stores were updated on news and put together strategies.
– One concrete element to conclude was that the sales managers in Norway gave an overview of the goods sold in the various department stores prior to the next tender paper. The department stores that had not sold enough had to go home and place a wrong order, he says.
He says the duties were a regular routine performed by the treasurer, sales managers and weapons managers – in addition to the department store manager himself.
He also worked in XXL until February last year.
XXL examines the scope
XXL Norway Chief Anders Kjellén has been presented with the case.
In an email, he replies that the information provided by E24's sources is new to him and to the rest of the company's management.
They have now initiated internal investigations to get to the bottom of the case, writes the XXL Summit.
– This is not the way we should act towards our customers! All of our employees have been clearly told that customers should always be able to rely on information that comes from us.
– We are investigating this closely now, but so far we have not found anything to indicate that the practice described by E24 sources is widespread.
Consumer monitoring: – Very serious
A few years ago, the Consumer Surveillance Authority regularly saw players in the sports industry accuse each other of price cheating of various kinds. Often it was about the lack of price in the ads, says department director Jo Gjedrem.
What E24 sources say he has never been gone.
– If dealers falsify sales figures, it will be very serious. It would be quite extraordinary if they hide violations of the marketing law by producing documentation, says Gjedrem.
Anders Kjellén says that they have now started a dialogue with the Consumer Authority.
– Change is needed
XXL has this summer had to settle for what the company's founder Øivind Tiedemandsen describes as a winning culture that is out of control, after several scandalous announcements.
After XXL's Sweden manager Per Sigvardsson first suggested that lifting in an XXL department store in Stockholm was an isolated case, E24 revealed in June that different department stores have used the same punitive response against employees for a number of years – and that top management knew about the promise.
In early July, E24 wrote about several cases where XXL has emptied competitors' shelves of offering goods to inflict loss on them – or let the "enemy bleed", as XXL's Norwegian Chief Anders Anders Kjellén described in an internal announcement. Kjellén has regretted both the war rhetoric and the collection of goods.
Also, the military rhetoric about the leadership training program, which went by the nickname "War School" mentioned by E24 at the beginning of the month, has XXL taken self-criticism.
Kjellén writes that media attention has been demanding and acknowledges that the chain "has not been good enough in some areas".
– We already reviewed culture, values and routines in XXL. Change is needed and for me this is a top priority.
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