The company Granqvist Sportartiklar AB was founded in 1984 in Karlstad. The vision was simply to create the world's best ski glove. It would be done under the brand name LillSport®. Today, almost 40 years later, we are a well-established brand that can be seen on everyone from the everyday athlete in the ski track to the elite skiers at the championships.
Lillsport is currently run by the Granqvist family in Karlstad and production takes place in our own factory located in Poland, which was inaugurated in 2006 and currently employs over 300 people. Thanks to the close distance to the production, Lillsport can continuously ensure the quality of the gloves and drive the development forward in terms of material choice and fit. In addition to ski gloves, we have expanded the range with roller ski gloves, outdoor gloves and gaiters, all to thrive in the outdoor environment.
Today gloves from Lillsport are used in several different national teams and over the years Lillsport has been worn by Gunde Svan, Torgny Mogren, Thomas Wassberg, Marcus Hellner and Charlotte Kalla. In addition to sports gloves, Granqvist Sportartiklar manufactures gloves for military, firefighting and police under the brand Granqvists®.
Lasse Granqvist's words about the way forward
It all started with our founder and active CEO Lasse Granqvist being a good skier and annoyed that parts of the equipment did not work as it should. It all started with the hat not sitting in place but constantly going up and making him freeze his ears. He then developed the product "ear tags" that sat firmly on the ears and kept the heat. It was a product that was easy to produce, so simple that Lasse brought materials and made ear tags in the evenings when he was away at training camp.
The Norwegian outdoor company Lillsport, which then made backpacks, took on Lasse's idea of ear tags and started selling them. After Lasse got a taste of business and improving existing products in the ski world, he continued to deal with the development of ski gloves. Seams chafed and the gloves had the wrong shape to be able to grip the ski pole. In 1980, the first cross-country ski gloves finally came on the market under the brand Lillsport and then Lasse was still an active skier himself.
The road was not obvious, but encountered some problems, Lasse managed to produce first in Finland for a short period and then moved to Belgrade. There the production was until the country's civil war 1990–1991 when Lillsport was again without a factory.
Lasse realized that Poland could be an attractive alternative as the eastern countries had begun to open up to the West again after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was also close to Sweden geographically and that there was a leather industry available there. After three trips down to Poland, the choice landed on the city of Zotow, which then began sewing Lillsport gloves. At about the same time, Lasse managed to buy the LillSport brand from the Norwegian company and was now the own owner of both the brand and the production.
During this time, the brand had grown strongly among cross-country skiers in Sweden and they were worn by famous mentions such as Tomas Wassberg, Gunde Svahn, Torgny Mogren and Björn Dähle. The tradition of wearing Lillsport gloves has continued since then and today we have cross-country ski stars Charlotte Kalla, Marcus Hellner, Stina Nilsson, Martin Sundby and many more who use our Lillsport gloves and we could not be more grateful and proud.
Lasse is a CEO who has always cared about his staff and made sure that the employees want to stay in the company. Many of those who were already present in the early 1990s are still there today. It is difficult to sew gloves and it takes at least six months to train a seamstress so it is important to care for the employees who have learned and make them feel good in the company. Therefore, one of Lasse's biggest assignments is to take care of his staff.
What in the 1990s was a small collective in Poland now has 320 operators sewing quality gloves for sports, military, police and firefighters around the world.