We were once a small company selling wood baskets in a remote Swedish village. Today, we’re an international business success. How did it all happen? Here’s a summary.
The story of BRIO begins with a boy named Ivar Bengtsson. An entrepreneur by nature, he invests his saving of 77 SEK into selling woodchip baskets in Denmark. And at the tender age of 18, Ivar had made his very first profit which he’s eager to invest further.
In 1884 Ivar and his wife Sissa Persdotter move to a village close to Osby and continue selling woodchip baskets. The business thrives in Sweden – the baskets are affordable and durable and BRIO’s focus on quality products has begun.
Ivar and his family move to Osby in 1902. The company expands and the product range grows. By 1907 the product catalog contains a total of 170 products. It’s also at this time that a small, locally produced horse – the Osby horse – makes its debut as the company’s very first toy.
Ivar and Sissa transfer the company to their three sons Viktor, Anton and Emil in 1908, and the following year BRIO – an acronym for the Ivarsson brothers of Osby – is founded. The company does well and the product range expands dramatically through imported goods. Toys are an essential part of the product range and the company begins importing German prams in 1920.
In 1934, BRIO began to market its toys with the word "BRIO" on them, and the first BRIO logo appeard on selected products, like two red-painted wooden toy trucks. Retailers were offered a BRIO sign with the BRIO logo on it.
The shortage of products during the war is also one of the reasons why BRIO invests in its own pram manufacturing. By 1947, BRIO has its own factory producing prams.
This is the year when we introduced the miniature-railway, the Dachshund and our Stacking Clown. Needless to say – a very important year in BRIO history!
The three brothers run BRIO until the torch is handed on to Anton’s son Lennart. Lennart becomes the CEO of BRIO between 1952 and 1978 and lifts the company to international.
To celebrate the joy of play and our company’s rich history, BRIO opens a toy museum inside its former warehouses in Osby. The museum is called the BRIO Lekoseum, which translated means ‘play museum’. In 2014 Lekoseum was transformed into a foundation. Visit - lekoseum.se (in swedish) - for more information.
During 2014, we celebrate our 130th anniversary. Instead of looking backwards and profiling ground-breaking milestones we decided to pay tribute to the importance of play, celebrating the child within us all. This is important in times when free play is being given less and less of a role, despite the fact that we know that play is key to the development and creativity of both children and adults. Never stop playing!
Parts of our manufacturing moved abroad in 2002. BRIO’s head office is now located in the city of Malmö, but Lekoseum is still placed in Osby. During 2013 BRIO divests its business in the field of push chairs, car seats and furniture to Britax. In January 2015, the Ravensburger Group acquired BRIO AB from the Swedish investor Proventus. Today - as always - BRIO is working hard to develop new toys for children. Some of the old favorites have been updated and many more see the light.
BRIO has been Purveyor to the Royal Court of Sweden since the 1940s. This tradition is still very much alive – in 2012, Crown Princess Victoria chose a specially designed blue BRIO pram for her baby daughter Princess Estelle.