S Group's retail sales before taxes increased by 2.2 per cent to EUR 11,523 million.
"SOK Corporation's results improved for the fifth year in succession. The record-breaking euro-denominated results of the travel industry and hospitality business were a particular high point within S Group. The profitability of SOK also improved significantly. Both of these factors had a positive impact on SOK Corporation's results", says Taavi Heikkilä, CEO of SOK.
The previous year's good results of S Group's hotels and restaurants improved even further last year. The rising financial performance has continued strong since 2014, regardless of fierce competition. Reasons for this include the successful development of hotel brands and services, the modernisation of chain restaurants, customer relationship programmes and digital development, all of which have helped to improve customer satisfaction higher than before.
In general, S Group's performance has improved as a result of investments in digital solutions and energy efficiency.
Opened in stages, S Group's logistics centre in Sipoo was completed in 2018. The logistics centre is highly modern, even on a global scale, and improves the efficiency of S Group's grocery trade even further.
"In terms of grocery trade, focus was placed on the acquisition of Stockmann Herkku stores at the beginning of the year and the elegantly modernised Food Market Herkku store launched in Helsinki in autumn. We have received nothing but positive feedback", Heikkilä says.
Sales of S Group's grocery trade in Finland went up by 4.8 per cent from the year before. This hints at a further increase in market shares. Last year, S Group increased the online sale of food products by 26 per cent from the previous year, reaching sales of EUR 38 million.
Significant investments in the hotel network
S Group's investments amounted to EUR 589 million last year. These included significant investments in hotels. Considerable construction and modernisation projects are underway in different parts of Finland, some of which completed and some of which started last year. The recently completed expansion of Break Sokos Hotel Flamingo in Vantaa makes it the largest hotel in Finland with its 541 rooms. Last year's investments in the logistics centre in Sipoo amounted to EUR 45 million.
Cooperatives paid a total of EUR 329 million in bonuses to co-op members. The end of the system of paying bonuses for alcohol purchases at the beginning of March reduced the amount of bonuses. An average amount of EUR 157 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 bonuses.
S Group's and SOK Corporation's key figures for January–December 2018
S Group as a whole (cooperatives + SOK Corporation), January–December 2018:
Retail sales before taxes totalled EUR 11,523 (11,273) million.
Retail sales increased by 2.2 per cent.
Operating profit was EUR 355 (344) million.
Profit before appropriations and taxes was EUR 346 (297) million.
Investments totalled EUR 589 (525) million.
At the end of the year, there were 2,398,295 (2,355,963) co-op members.
At the end of the year, the number of personnel was 37,283 (36,688). The number has been calculated on the basis of active employment relationships.
This year, S Group will employ some 14,000 summer employees.
The total number of outlets at the end of the year was 1,841 (1,843).
SOK Corporation (SOK + subsidiaries), January–December 2018:
Net sales (IFRS) were EUR 7,304 (7,064) million.
Operating profit (FAS) was EUR 59 (41) million.
Profit before taxes (IFRS) was EUR 55 (5) million.
Investments totalled EUR 113 (58) million.
At the end of the year, the number of personnel was 6,197 (6,089). The number has been calculated on the basis of active employment relationships.
SOK Corporation's financial statements bulletin for January–December 2018 will be published in the S-kanava online service on 8 February 2019. S Group's annual and responsibility reports and SOK Corporation's 2018 financial statements, including notes, will be published in March 2019.