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Jan Bøgh

From four close colleagues: Happy 25th anniversary to our CEO!


Author: Anders Græsbøll Buch, Communications Consultant, JYSK

Category: History

On 1 October 2020, CEO and President Jan Bøgh celebrates his 25th anniversary in JYSK. asked three Country Managers and Executive Secretary Lis Schøn to share their thoughts about Jan Bøgh.

”Jan is a role model for how a CEO should be. He is the pilot in our Air Force One, who watches the horizon and sees the strategic perspective, while still steering the flight and seeing the small details that no one would expect him to do.”

That is how Piotr Padalak, Country Manager in JYSK Poland, describes CEO and President Jan Bøgh, who is celebrating his 25th anniversary in JYSK on 1 October 2020. Piotr and Johan Sjödin, Country Manager in Sweden, Vesna Kukić Lončarić, Country Manager West Balkan, and Executive Secretary Lis Schøn have been given the task to say a few words about Jan Bøgh.

They have been onboard Jan’s Air Force One for a long time and know him very well. For all of them, one of the first things that comes to mind about Jan is his incredible eye for details and his memory. Even in a JYSK store in a country where Jan does not know the exact prices, he is able to find a wrong price tag.

A mix of leadership styles

Jan Bøgh
Jan Bøgh from his first time in JYSK.

But how is Jan Bøgh’s leadership style? During the years, Country Manager in JYSK Sweden, Johan Sjödin, has had many handball discussions with Jan Bøgh. Jan has often joked about the very laissez faire leadership style that a Swedish national coach was practicing, where he would often ask the players what they thought, when he had to set up the final and decisive attack in the last minute of a match.

“Jan doesn’t understand this approach. ‘Why do they need a coach then?’ he has asked me. But then I send him back videos of Danish coaches, who are screaming and yelling at the players, when things are not going well. It is of course just banter, and we both agree that the happy medium is the best way to go, and I would say that Jan’s leadership is the perfect mix,” says Johan.

Jan’s sense of humour and sarcasm is also something that all four people mention and praise. However, his sense of humour was challenged at Johan’s first JYSK Christmas party in Sweden in 2005. Johan was the host and he had hired an artist that would have a part, where they would pick someone from the crowd to do the twist dance on stage. Johan specifically told them not to pick someone from table one or two, because those were guests from the Head Office in Denmark. Still, out of 1,000 people there, the artist managed to pick Jan Bøgh.

“It was a total coincidence, and at first Jan didn’t understand what was happening, but he went to the stage and the music started and he did the twist dance for two whole minutes. I really thought that was my last day in JYSK, so I went directly to Jan and apologised and told him I didn’t know they would pick him. But he just smiled and said, ‘No, no, I believe you’,” says Johan.

Success or bonus gone

More of the Country Managers also highlight Jan’s ability to be very direct. Vesna Kukić Lončarić, Country Manager West Balkan, experienced a very short job interview with Jan Bøgh, because he wanted to skip the introduction. He had already checked everything, so he only wanted to hear what she thought she could do for JYSK.

At one point, Vesna was trying to convince Jan to get permission to open a third JYSK store in Split, Croatia. However, Jan was not convinced, so he asked which one of the stores that would sell best. Vesna said the third store.

“Then Jan said, ‘Okay, you can do it, but your bonus will be taken if the sales doesn’t improve with the third store compared to the two we have now’. And I accepted that. He is always checking that you are sure and have good arguments, and I like him being funny and direct. We opened the store, and it was a great success,” says Vesna.

Jan Bøgh
Jan Bøgh has always enjoyed running. Here he is portrayed in Lars Larsen's book about JYSK.

Lis didn’t know about the grandchild

As well as being very direct and to the point, Jan also leaves out unnecessary facts. For instance, Lis Schøn, Executive Secretary, who was hired 24 years ago to be Jan’s secretary and has her desk just outside Jan’s office, first found out by coincidence a few years after that Jan had had his first grandchild.

”He’s very private and it shows that even though I know him very well and we talk a lot, it is mostly about work. He doesn’t think it is relevant for me that he had his first grandchild, and that is totally fine with me,” says Lis.

25 more years?

After a big transformation of JYSK in the last 25 years, the next 25 years will probably be just as transformative and challenging. The project of merging JYSK Nordic and DBL Region to One JYSK will take a few more years, and Lis believes that Jan will have a hard time stepping down into retirement at some point.

”I don’t think he will be here for another 25 years, but I think it will be difficult for him to retire. He’s not the type that wants to relax at home and mow the lawn and fix the garden. At his reception he also promised Jacob Brunsborg (Chairman of Lars Larsen Group) to stay at least until One JYSK is fully implemented and working,” says Lis.

The three Country Managers also hope that Jan will stay as long as possible and hopefully fulfil the promise to JYSK founder Lars Larsen about reaching 5,000 stores worldwide.

”Just as football players talk about their coach in the dressing room when the boss is not there, so do we Country Managers. In my 21 years, I can honestly say that I have never heard one Country Manager say that he or she was annoyed with Jan. We really hope that he will stay as long as possible,” says Piotr Padalak.

Happy 25th anniversary, Jan Bøgh!

Grækenland åbning
From the opening in Greece in 2015.


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