S Group’s sales grew early in the year driven by hotels and restaurants together with grocery trade, which developed stronger than the market

S Group’s sales grew early in the year driven by hotels and restaurants together with grocery trade, which developed stronger than the market

S Group’s retail sales before taxes totalled EUR 3,237.8 million from January to March. This entailed growth of nearly 10 per cent from the previous year. The strongest growth was seen in hotels and restaurants, which were heavily impacted by coronavirus restrictions a year earlier. Sales at S Group’s grocery stores continued to grow faster than the rest of the sector’s market in Finland.

19.4.2023

Supermarket trade sales totalled EUR 2,357.3 million from January to March. There was growth of 8.9 per cent from the corresponding period in the previous year.

The development of inflation and consumer’s weakening purchasing power have highlighted the significance of price competitiveness for supermarket trade. In consumer goods trade, consumers now consider their purchases more carefully than before. For groceries as well, price has become an important factor for more and more people in Finland. Consumers have moved their purchases to more affordable chains and products. However, there is still demand for interesting new products. This was proved by Mattila Bros. Smokehouse meals, which won the Finnish Recipe for Success competition and were included in the best-selling convenience food products in February.

“As a cooperative business, we want to offer our co-op members a shopping basket that is as affordable and varied as possible even in a tight economic situation. We have not transferred all cost increases to prices and in March, we lowered the prices of about 400 already affordable Xtra products. In addition, we have highlighted fruit and vegetables that cost less than one euro per kilo or package since January,” says Hannu Krook, CEO of SOK.

S Group’s grocery sales grew significantly faster than the rest of the Finnish market in January–March.

Hotel and restaurant sales continued to grow

The sales of S Group’s travel industry and hospitality business grew by almost 60 per cent during January–March compared to the previous year. At that time, coronavirus restrictions had a strong impact on the operations of the industry, especially in January and February. Sales at hotels and restaurants increased to EUR 182.2 million, coming close to the level of 2019, before the pandemic.

“Business and group travel has recovered well, and there were even more conferences and meetings in January–March than in a normal first part of a year. International travel is also recovering. The demand for services has been particularly busy in Lapland. Business was also good at S Group’s restaurants early in the year. In particular, fast food has become increasingly popular,” Krook says.

A positive start for the year in service station store and fuel sales and at department stores

The sales of the ABC chain totalled EUR 487.4 million in January–March, representing an increase of 4.9 per cent from the previous year. The amount of road traffic were slightly larger than in the first quarter of 2022, subject to coronavirus restrictions. With increased traffic, sales developed positively in both the ABC chain’s fuels sales and electric charging. Business was also better at ABC service stations’ restaurants than in the previous year, and varying winter weather increased the demand for car wash services.

Department store and speciality goods sales totalled EUR 56.6 million in January–March, representing an increase of 13 per cent from the previous year. Different kinds of events and occasions are once again a part of people’s everyday lives. The sales of fashion and cosmetics were significantly higher than in the same period a year before. The return of business to city centres increased customer volumes and sales at bricks-and-mortar stores for both Sokos and the Emotion chain. At the same time, the new Sokos.fi service is accelerating e-commerce sales.

“Despite the challenging economic situation, the first quarter of the year was favourable in terms of sales for S Group’s business areas. During the pandemic, we developed our network in several ways, and we have maintained an affordable price level through the current times. This makes us an interesting choice for customers,” Krook concludes.

S Group’s retail sales excluding taxes, 1–3/2023

Percentage changes from 2019, the time before the coronavirus crisis, are included for comparability.

Business areaSales (EUR million)Change in comparison to 1-3/2022 (%)Change in comparison to 1-3/2019 (%)
Supermarket trade*2,357.3+8.9+24.5
Service station store and fuel sales487.4+4.9+28.1
Travel industry and hospitality business*182.2+59.6-4.0
Department stores and speciality goods sales56.6+13.0-16.4
Others154.4-0.2+13.6
S Group total3,237.8+9.8+21.4

Supermarket trade include S-Group’s retail trade, Prisma’s consumer goods trade and hardware trade.

*The figure includes sales in the Baltic countries and Russia. Business in Russia has ended. Prisma and hotel business operations in Saint Petersburg were sold in June 2022.

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