Saléns

Three generations of enterprise

1960-1970

1960-1970

Good visibility, fair winds

In early 1968, the Salén group passed Broström, previously the biggest shipping company in Sweden, in tonnage. The margin was only 14,000 DWT, but the press proclaimed Sven Salén the country’s new shipping king. Sven Salén disparaged the claim, saying that Broström’s tonnage was more specialised and therefore qualitatively better.

In a memorial issue of Salén-Nytt in November 1969, Sture Ödner wrote:

“The shipping and commercial company he built from scratch was thriving. Both his young sons had learnt the ropes. Important business deals had just been signed after lengthy negotiations. He had just launched his own and Sweden’s biggest ship, one that well fitted his concept of large, swift ships. It was an honourable finale.

Adventure and risk were natural to him and a stimulating part of his life’s work. He found it equally natural to enjoy the fruits of his courageous and forward-looking commitment.

In his prime, there was always an atmosphere of fun around Sven Salén. The meetings we had, even those involving very important business, did not always meet the expectations I had as a young man for deathly seriousness in such matters. But it worked. 

Sven Salén liked making money. Why else would you go into business? But that was far from his main motivation; many were the unprofitable deals accepted over the years principally to help less fortunate friends. Illogical perhaps, but human. Such a man was he, and so shall we remember him.”

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The acquisition of Rex shipping in 1967 was initiated by Marcus Wallenberg and pushed through by Sven Salén – still capable, only two years before his death, of overturning decisions made by senior management.

Our bosses had been brokers themselves and actively encouraged us to look for new business

Björn Byrfors
Enter the sons. Sven Hampus read law and Christer economics. By the mid-1960s, both joined the family firm, Sven Hampus in the tanker company and Christer in the reefer section.
In 1968, Salén & Wicander acquired the Toyota agency for the Swedish market. Toyota had been in Sweden since 1964 and 1,000 were already on the road. CEO Göran Axell (left) was far-sighted about the Japanese car: “[We] firmly believe that [Toyotas] will appeal to Swedish motorists, both for the car’s looks and its technical performance.” Here, a tall Swede gets behind the wheel of a Toyota.
The Seven Stars, 24,800 DWT, was one of three tankers built for Saléns at the Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstad in Göteborg in the late 1950s.
The Rex acquisition brought with it the TOR Line with sister ferries TOR Anglia (2,463 DWT, built 1966) and TOR Hollandia (2,287 DWT, built 1967) operating on the triangular Göteborg-Immingham-Amsterdam run.
Sven Salén in his country home at Askarvik, in Stockholm’s archipelago.