Invest in what you know, says billionaire Lars Larsen -- which, for this Danish entrepreneur, means bed linens, furniture and golf courses. The following Q&A, published in the February 2014 issue of Bloomberg Markets, is excerpted from a Dec. 13 interview conducted at Larsen's office near Aarhus, Denmark.
Where do you want to grow your business?
Russia. It’s a vast country. There's huge potential, just as in China, but it takes time to learn a new country. There are more and more Russians with the money to buy. It will be a huge success. We’re moving into Portugal, too, and when we have learned Portuguese, we will go to Brazil.
What’s your best-ever investment?
I had $20,000, and I started up JYSK.
What’s your worst investment?
I don’t remember, because I don’t dwell on them.
You co-own Denmark’s Himmerland golf course.
It’s my hobby to do that, but I don’t like to have a hobby which doesn’t earn money. So I’ve invested a lot there to be ready for the European Tour -- and to make it perhaps Europe’s biggest and most successful golf club.
Do you invest in gold?
I never think in terms of gold, currency, diamonds. I’m not clever enough for that. Today, I only invest around my own business.
What do you spend your salary on?
I have a little boat in the south of Spain. I have a nice house on Majorca, a house on a golf resort in South Africa. I’m not so crazy that I’ve worked my whole life and earned a lot of money and then don’t spend a penny on myself.
Any money-saving tips?
To get a good deal, I buy them all with a friend. The houses, the boat, everything. We each buy half. So I pay half price! They get used more.
What’s the most extravagant gift you've given your workers?
Our Christmas party. I don't call it a gift; I call it an investment. Because for half a year before the party, the staff are talking about what this year's will be like. The next six months, they're smiling and talking about what a fantastic party it was.
What's the last thing you would get rid of in hard times?
JYSK. I will sell all other things before JYSK. That’s my baby, and you don’t sell your baby.
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