Good performance from Nordic retailers

Related tags Cent Estonia Sweden Baltic sea

Two of the leading Nordic food retail groups, Finland's Kesko and
Sweden's Axfood, announced good results last week, helped by growth
both at home and abroad.

Two of the Nordic region's leading food retailers last week announced solid increases in sales for 2002. Finland's Kesko Group said its sales had risen 4.1 per cent to €6.5 billion, while Sweden's Axfood reported consolidated sales of SK33.1 billion (€3.6bn), an increase of 2.1 per cent.

Kesko, whose profits were up from €85.7 million to €109.7 million, said that the increase in sales had come in no small part from the expansion of both the wholesale and retail markets in Finland (1.1 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively). Sales were also helped by improvements in the Baltic retail markets, and revenues outside Finland increased by 37.6 per cent.

It was the food retail business which accounted for the majority of growth at the diversified Finnish group, with Kesko Food's sales rising 5.7 per cent to €3.6 billion during the year. Kesko Food was also the driver of growth in the Baltic countries, in particular Estonia and Latvia, with sales there reaching €177 million, or 4.9 per cent of the total. Kesko Foods reported operating profits of €60.5 million, up more than 50 per cent, and accounting for the lion's share of total group operating profits of €98.8 million.

As well as its food retail operations, which are mainly under the K-food banner, Kesko operates in the horeca sector via Kespro, the DIY market through its Rautakesko unit, the agricultural machinery sector with Kesko Agro, sells a variety of household and sporting goods through its Keswell unit, operates in the automotive industry via VV-Auto and manages a major trading platform through Kaukomarkkinat.

Meanwhile, across the border in Sweden, the Axfood retail group reported domestic sales of SK27.6 billion for 2002, up 9.6 per cent on the previous year, while its Finnish operations, Spar Finland, posted sales of SK5.5 billion, down 2.6 per cent.

The Hemköp chain, which operates in the upmarket segment, saw its sales fall by 3 per cent during the year to SK6.3 billion, while the Willy's discount chain reported a rise in sales of 21 per cent to SK8.4 billion. Willy's Hemma, the convenience discount store chain, reported a 12.9 per cent rise to SK1.1 billion.

Operating profit for the year was SK1 billion, while net profit was up from SK527 million to SK919 million.

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