Kesko is the leading Finnish listed trading sector company. Kesko's operations include the grocery trade, the building and technical trade and the car trade. Its divisions and chains act in close cooperation with retailer entrepreneurs and other partners.
Kesko and K-retailers form the K-Group, whose sales (pro forma) totaled about €13.2 billion in 2016. Corporate responsibility is a strategic choice for the K-Group, and we are proud to be the most sustainable trading sector company in the world. The K-Group is the third largest retailer in Northern Europe and employs some 42,000 people.
A pioneer in the field of trade in Finland, Kesko’s chain operations includes over 2,000 stores in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland. The company's domicile and headquarters are located in Helsinki.
Odyssey of Kesko
Four regional wholesalers founded by merchants, Savo-Karelian Wholesaler, Central Finland Wholesale, Kauppiaitten Oy and Maakauppiaitten Oy merged together to form Kesko in October 1940. Kesko's business started in early 1941.
Commodity regulation and import restrictions slowed down trade growth in the early 1950s. At the end of the decade, when the provisions were released, they started to create networks of specialty stores instead of earlier stockbrokers. Kesko played an important role in the development of business types. The first was the creation of a K-hardware store network and Kesko hardware warehouse system. Also, agricultural and machinery trade was started up with a strong start.
Retail trade changed significantly in the 1960s in food trade. As self-financing declined, fresh foods came to trades and the change of general merchandise to actual grocery stores started.
Kesko's growth continued steadily in the 1970s, particularly in food trade. The success factor was a new business type "K-halli". The specialty shopping network was re-established. Commercial business development became the responsibility of commercial groups. Kesko and K-retailers entered the retail and ironmongery retail trade. The Kesport chain was born. The first Citymarket department store was established in Lahti in 1971.
The 1980s were the decade of major investments in Kesko. New premises for regional centers were opened in Turku and Oulu, a new central warehouse was built and several major retail stores. To fund the investments, the share capital was increased. The number of shareholders increased by 20,000.
The new business type of retailing and the shift to chain operations changed Kesko's organization and operations significantly. The focus of operations continued. The number of district units fell to five and they mainly focused on grocery trade. The chain unit and profit group organization and the incorporation of operations created a customer-oriented and results-oriented business model.
The exploration of the Swedish and Baltic markets in the mid-1990s gained momentum as the millennium changed. The focal point of internationalization was the hardware trade and the K-rauta business type. Kesko also expanded its agricultural trade to all Baltic countries and achieved a market leadership position in the region in a very short time.
The internationalization of retail customers has been known for growth and ease of purchase. In the 2010s, the widespread use of the Internet and the e-commerce revolution have made purchasing easier and led to a new turning point in the trade.
Employee and Customer Centric
The about 45,000 employees of the K-Group work daily to make shopping fun for customers. The breadth and versatility of the K-Group provide excellent opportunities for learning different jobs, self-development and career progression. Moreover, our extensive in-house training supports the individual development of our employees and their career advancement.
Trading sector transformation and increase in e-commerce call for new kinds of expertise. We want to strengthen our team with new people who have a fresh way of thinking. The K-Group offers a paid K-Trainee Program intended for the top trading professionals of the future, who have a strong desire to demonstrate their competencies as a part of a modernizing K-Group. Additionally, the K-Group employs thousands of summer employees and on-the-job trainees every year.
Mikko Helander, President, and CEO: born. 1960, Counselor, M.Sc. (Eng.).
Working history: Joined Kesko Corporation since 2014. Kesko Corporation's President and CEO and Kesko Group CEO since January 1, Executive Vice President of Kesko Corporation 2014. Managing Director of Metsä Board Corporation 2006-2014, Managing Director of Metsä Tissue Corporation 2003-2006, Valmet Plc Executive Officers 1993-2003, Managing Director of Kasten Hövikin 1990-1993.
Other key tasks: Confederation of Finnish Industries EK: Member of the Board 2016 and Vice Chairman of the Board 2016, Central Chamber of Commerce: Member of the Board 2016-, Trade Union: Member of the Board 2015 and Vice Chairman of the Board 2015, Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company: Member of the Board of Directors 2015- EVA Delegation, Member of Delegation 2015, Finnish Fair Corporation, Member of the Supervisory Board 2015, East Office of Finnish Industries Oy: Member of the Board 2015.
“We work in grocery, building and building technology trade and car sales. Our business and chain work in close cooperation with retailer entrepreneurs and other partners.”