S Group achieve a strong profit and record-high investment in Finland

S Group’s result improved clearly in 2021, and the amount of investment grew to nearly 800 million euros. The year was characterised by the duality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supermarkets continued their strong development, and grocery trade grew more than the rest of the market. Other industries were gradually returning closer to normal. The year was particularly hard on the travel industry and hospitality business.


The combined result of regional cooperatives and the SOK Corporation (FAS) was 280 million euros in 2021, which is 84 million euros more than the previous year. S Group’s retail sales before taxes grew 5.9% to 12.3 billion euros. Cash benefits paid to co-op members totalled 436 million euros.

Supermarkets increased their sales by 3.2%. Restrictions on restaurants and remote work still affected grocery store sales, as they transferred demand to the stores. The strong growth of online grocery shopping was accelerated by adding more capacity and the new online store service for groceries, S-kaupat.fi. Consumer goods trade grew strongly both in stores and online, and Prisma stores achieved the best result in its history in consumer goods trade.

“Groceries store sales grew more than the rest of the market in 2021. We have completed the renewal of the S-market chain. We increased our online groceries sales faster than the rest of the market, and growth continued strongly also in the last quarter of the year. We are expecting to become the market leader of online grocery shopping again in the latter half of the year. Prisma, which continues its growth in consumer goods trade, proved once again that it is a true winning concept,” sums up Arttu Laine, the Deputy CEO of SOK.

The ABC chain increased its sales by 21.1%, and its market share in fuel trade strengthened. However, the coronavirus clearly had an impact on ABC restaurants in particular. The pandemic also kept city centres quieter than usual, which was hard on department store and speciality store trade. Despite the conditions, sales in this field of business grew by 3.7%.

The second year of the pandemic took the heaviest toll on the travel industry and hospitality business, which still clearly made a loss. Even though its sales grew by 12.3% in the summer and early autumn as COVID-19 restrictions were eased when compared with 2020, the year was the second hardest in the history of this field of business.

“In particular, the start of the year was a challenging time for many of our fields of business due to the restrictions. The summer and the rest of the year showed that we are well prepared for fast recovery if the coronavirus restrictions allow it. The development trend of department store and speciality store trade bodes a positive platinum jubilee for the 70-year-old Sokos. We also strongly believe in the recovery of the travel industry and hospitality business that has developed its network and services greatly during the pandemic,” emphasises Laine.

Record-breaking investment and employment acts carry us through the pandemic

S Group strongly invests in the future. The investments in 2021 were as high as 786 million euros. The record-high investments were targeted to different parts of Finland. Following the S Group strategy, the investments were focused on the customer-based development of the service network, online store, digitality, and renewable energy.

In addition to the S-market chain, the main location-focused investments were for launching the renewal of the Sale chain and opening as many as 52 new or renovated restaurants. The national network of ABC charging stations for electric cars expanded quickly already in its first year. S Group continued investment in solar energy, and at the end of the year, they had 100,000 solar panels generating electricity.

A 150-million-euro wind farm investment, one of the largest in Finland, will soon be finished in the Sarvisuo region of Simo. Gigawatti Oy, a subsidiary of S-Voima Oy owned by the cooperatives and SOK, is responsible for this investment. The wind farm will be fully operational in summer 2022.

“It has been important for us to continue investment and operational development despite coronavirus. Concrete employment acts have been equally important. We have avoided thousands of lay-offs by being able to offer replacement work for travel and restaurant professionals. Throughout the pandemic, we have also offered important summer jobs for young people. Next year, we will employ more young people than ever before: 15,000,” says Laine.

In the annual personnel survey, S Group’s employees expressed their gratitude for how responsibly the group had handled the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic and its many challenges have become a marathon. This made it an even better feeling to receive such feedback from the personnel. We have a solid basis for continuing our work together, for the benefit of our 2.5 million owners,” states Arttu Laine.

Key figures in 1–12/2021

Regional cooperatives + SOK Corporation 1–12/2021:

  • Retail sales before taxes totalled 12,329 million euros (previous year, 11,625 million euros).

  • The operating result (FAS) was 280 million euros (previous year, 196 million euros)

  • Investments totalled 786 million euros (previous year, 642 million euros).

  • The total number of co-op members was 2,471,637 at the end of the year (previous year, 2,453,715).

  • Cooperatives paid a total of 379 million euros (previous year, 358 million euros) in Bonus to co-op members.

  • An average amount of 176 euros was paid to co-op member households during the year, when including payment method-related benefit, return of surplus, and interest on the membership fee in addition to Bonus.

  • The number of personnel was 39,861 (previous year, 38,585) at the end of the year. The number has been calculated on the basis of active employment relationships.

  • The total number of outlets at the end of the year was 1,909 (previous year, 1,849).

SOK Corporation (SOK + subsidiaries), 1–12/2021:

  • Net sales (IFRS) were 7,797 million euros (previous year, 7,600 million euros).

  • The operating result (IFRS) was 20 million euros (previous year, -3 million euros).

  • Investments totalled 127 million euros (previous year, 94 million euros).

  • At the end of the year, the number of personnel was 6,038 (6,140). This figure has been calculated on the basis of active employment relationships.

SOK Corporation’s financial statements bulletin for January–December 2021 will be published on s-ryhma.fi on 14 February 2022. S Group’s annual and responsibility reviews and SOK Corporation’s financial statements for 2021, including notes, will be published in March 2022.

Photos: SOK

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