About Olav Thon

Olav Thon. Portrettbilde.
Foto: Gry Traaen

Olav Thon was born in 1923. He grew up on the Thon farm in Hallingdal, 880 metres above sea level. Like most children at the time, he had to do everything it was possible to ask of a little boy, from tending the cows in the outlying fields and helping to herd them out into the summer pastures. He also had to help out with tasks around the farm, and became a haymaker as soon as he was old enough.

Even as a child he was extremely interested in trade. When he was eight years old, he ordered Christmas cards from Utstyrmagasinet, a mail-order catalogue based in Oslo, and went around the village selling them. As a young teenager, he began to buy and sell leather. Since educational opportunities had become hard to come by because of the Second World War (WWII), he increased his trading activities instead. He became the owner and manager of a fur shop in Majorstuen in Oslo – Volvat Pels – at just 18 years of age. After the war, he also travelled abroad and traded wholesale. He accrued funds that he invested in real estate, which he soon found to be a lasting and solid investment.

As a property developer, Olav Thon built up an extensive portfolio over the years. He started with apartment buildings and shopping centres, and later invested in hotels. In 2013 – when a significant share of his capital was transferred to the Olav Thon Foundation – he owned around 70 shopping centres and a similar number of hotels, both in Norway and abroad. Less well known is his ownership stake in Unger Fabrikker A.S, which undertake significant industrial activity.