One hundred years of cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area

HOK-Elanto has its roots in cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area, which started at the beginning of the last century.

The first major cooperative society in Helsinki is Elanto. It is founded on 15 October 1905, when bakery workers who have lost their jobs start to organise their own production plant. Their coming together expands to become a consumer cooperative society. In 1907 Elanto's first bakery is completed and at the same time, the first bakers shops and cafés are opened.

The world is in tumult and so too is Finland. Controversy between the workers and landowners in Finland becomes more serious. The workers' cooperatives leave SOK, the Finnish Cooperative Wholesale Society, and found their own wholesale business, Central Cooperative OTK.

The nationalistic bourgeoisie embark on organising their own cooperative society committed to SOK. The founding meeting of Helsinki Cooperative Society HOK is held in January 1919. In April of that same year, the cooperative society opens shops in the Katajanokka district and on Etelä-Esplanadi.

Elanto strengthens its position on the market, opens the large Hakaniemi store and builds a new head office on Kaikukatu. Bread is still the leading product and Elanto builds a new bakery and mill to keep up production.

HOK also grows vigorously and it broadens its activities. In 1929 an office building, which houses the first licensed restaurant as well as shops, is completed on Mannerheimintie HOK discovers its licensed premises and restaurants are a money machine and it turns in a thrashing result.

The S Group brings the core idea of cooperative operations into the 21st Century  – the more consumers buy, the more credit they get. The S Group's awareness puts in motion a dazzling take-off, the like of which has never been seen anywhere else in Europe. Over the next fifteen years, the cooperative's market share grows from a scanty 16 per cent to 31 per cent.

In 1995, in order to avoid the emptying out of the savings fund, Elanto applies for corporate restructuring (Chapter 11). Five yers later the debt is paid and negotiiation for a merger with HOK starts.

The result is that Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto started its operations officially on 1 January 2004.

First logos

Cooperative Society Elanto   Helsinki Cooperative Society HOK

Brief history