I recently swept the flue to this original Jotul F118 Wood-Burning Stove at an address in Saffron Walden. The customer told me that they had owned the stove for over 30 years and that it originally came from another property where it had been in service for a number of years. As you can see from the photo, it’s a rather unusual, quirky, but strangely attractive stove. I should imagine that it looks rather beautiful when it is a light and burning! It is also a deceptive stove, having as it does a long and rather capacious fire-box. The customer reports that it certainly throws out the heat in the winter!
Jotul are a Norweigan company and have been making stoves and fireplaces for over 160 years. Jotul are proud of their global status, selling their products in 43 different countries spread over six continents – Truly a global brand!
Jøtul was founded by Oluf Onsum as Kværner Jernstøberi (Kværner Foundry) in the outskirts of Christiania (now Oslo) in 1853. While stoves initially were the main products, the company had diversified by the beginning of the 20th century, when it produced turbines and lumber equipment.
As the heating appliance manufacture decreased in importance, the production was spun off in 1916 and sold to Herman Anker, one of Kværner’s managers. He founded Jøtul AS in 1920 as a sales organization for its products. The sales stagnated during the depression in the 1920s, and 36-year-old Herman Anker died in 1927, leaving it to his successor, 34-year-old Johannes Gahr to modernize and eventually salvage the company. By 1935, the turnaround had succeeded, and the firm acquired its modern name.
By the 1960s, stoves using liquid fuels, especially kerosene had supplanted wood-burning appliances, a trend that was only reversed in the 1970s, partly due to the 1973 oil crisis. Jøtul used this opportunity to gain a strong international foothold and drastically increased its exports to continental Europe and North America.
The Gahr family sold the business to Norcem in 1977, and a period of international expansion began, as Jøtul acquired a number of foundries and importers abroad. This period lasted for approximately ten years, but came to an end during the recession in the late 1980s, when Jøtul once again focussed on the domestic market. However, it has resumed its international diversification in the 21st century, and today its products are sold worldwide.
In March 2018, Jøtul was acquired by the global private equity firm OpenGate Capital. Along with management, OpenGate has crafted a plan to boost performance and eliminate inefficiencies in Jøtul’s operations. In addition, OpenGate Capital is actively searching for add-on targets to further drive Jøtul’s growth. In November 2018, OpenGate and Jøtul completed the add-on acquisition of AICO, an Italian and French based pellet-burning stove leader.