HOK-Elanto has its roots in cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area, which started at the beginning of the last century. The Elanto Cooperative was founded in 1905 and the Helsinki Cooperative Society HOK in 1919.
1900 – 1910
Birth of the cooperative movement in Finland.
1905 Cooperative Society Elanto is founded on 15 October.
1907 Elanto's first bakery is completed.
1908 The first baker's shops and cafés.
1910 – 1920
The world is in tumult and so too is Finland. Controversy between workers and landowners in Finland becomes more serious.
1910-1916 Bakers shops and milk shops are established in almost every district of the city.
1915 Väinö Tanner, a young lawyer, rises to Elanto's management.
1916 The workers' cooperatives leave SOK and establish their own ideological organisation Kulutusosuuskuntienkeskusliitto, the Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives. Backas Manor is purchased.
1917 Central Cooperative OTK is established and Elanto becomes a member.
1919 Helsinki Cooperative Society is founded. Elanto leaves SOK. HOK opens its first stores.
1920 – 1930
Elanto grows into a powerful player; HOK also undergoes considerable growth.
1920 Elanto opens a department store in Hakaniemi.
1924 New bakery in Sörnäinen.
1928 Elanto's head office on Hämeentie is completed.
1929 HOK's head office on Runeberginkatu is completed. HOK's licensed restaurants start up.
1930 – 1940
HOK discovers its licensed premises and restaurants are a money machine, and it turns in a thrashing result under the shadow of the mighty Elanto, which takes a negative view of alcohol.
1931 Elanto opens Aleksin Suur-Aitta.
1932 Lauri Koskivaara B.Sc. (Econ.) becomes HOK's Managing Director and remains in control of the cooperative for the next 30 years.
1936 HOK opens a restaurant, which seats more than 1000 people, in the Lasipalatsi.
1938 The Keskus-HOK head office goes up on Aleksis Kiven katu, and it houses a warehouse, bakery, processed food factory, laundry, joiners shop, repair shops and garages. Construction of the Sokos department store in the city centre gets underway. Elanto opens 40 new stores during the year.
1940 – 1950
Private commerce fares better than the cooperative movements in post-war Finland. The cooperatives are passive and they suffer for their honesty during rationing. Sales in HOK's grocery shops also drop but restaurants do well.
1947 Business operations in the city centre Sokos store gradually pick up after the war. Restaurant Vaakuna is located on the top floor of the building. A new restaurant for 1,250 people is on the second floor; the nation nicknames it Hehtaarihokki ("HOK by the hectare").
1950 – 1960
Self-service stores are indicative of the changing ways of the times. Other consumer innovations are plastic bags, milk cartons and the sell-by-date on bakery products.
1951 Elanto's first fast-service store opens.
1952 The Sokos department store is completed. Hotel Vaakuna, the largest hotel in Finland, opens.
1956 HOK's first self-service store opens.
1960 – 1970
Helsinki continues its rapid growth. The blocks in the centre start to be full up and the focus turns to the suburbs and regional development.
1963 HOK's business activities expand to include a service station, hairdresser, bookshop and funeral parlour.
1965 HOK opens the Merihotelli in Hakaniemi. Elanto's management completely changes; Ylermi Runko is appointed as the new Managing Director.
1968 Restaurant Fennia is the first of Elanto's licensed restaurants in Helsinki.
1970 – 1980
HOK's Managing Director Armas Tasa (1969 – 1975) resolutely takes the cooperative further into the hotel and restaurant business as grocery sales contract. Elanto focuses on the hypermarket trade.
1971 The Leppävaara Maximarket; Elanto is responsible for its food department. Hotel Helsinki transfers to HOK.
1972 HOK opens Hotel Hesperia. Hotel Torni transfers to HOK.
1973 Kannelmäki EKA Market opens. Hotel Olympia transfers to HOK.
1974 Hotel Klaus Kurki transfers to HOK.
1976 Hotel Korpilampi is completed.
1980 – 1985
Both cooperatives are characterised by unprofitable activities and they undertake radical measures.
1983 On the brink of disaster, the loss-making E cooperatives are merged to form Cooperative EKA Corporation. Elanto decides to remain independent. SOK finds Juhani Pesonen from the Wihuri Group to carry out the company restructuring.
1984 The cooperative societies Teho from Hyvinkää, Ahomaa from Järvenpää and Väinölä from Mäntsälä join HOK. Ässä-Market takes on management of all HOK's viable grocery stores.
1985 The S Bonus card and the S Group's common bonus system are introduced.
1985 – 1990
The S Group makes one of its most successful transactions. It puts OK-Liha up for sale, and the selling price is finally agreed at FIM 170 million. The major owner, HOK, gains FIM 23 million from the deal and gets the capital to revitalise the cooperative.
1986 HOK purchases 12 Perämies restaurants. Elanto acquires several speciality store subsidiaries.
1987 Ässä-Market purchases the privately owned Alepa chain.
1990 – 1995
The recession hits Finland and the economy is in free fall. At its height, the number of unemployed rises to 500,000 people. State and municipal tax revenues collapse, social security costs rise. The securing value of fixed assets crashes.
1993 EKA is driven into corporate restructuring when savings fund members want their money.
1995 HOK takes on Ässä-Market's successor Ässä-Partners Oy and sells its hotel business to SOK.
1995 – 2000
1995 Elanto also applies for corporate restructuring when it is unable to secure a financial pledge to cover the possible emptying out of the savings fund.
1996 Elanto and Tradeka start cooperation based on the corporate restructuring programme.
1998 Arto Hiltunen is appointed as Managing Director of HOK.
1999 Arto Ihto is appointed as Managing Director of Elanto.
2000 – 2006
Corporate restructuring does not cut Elanto's liabilities. There are still lots of stone-built houses and their value is starting to rise again. Moreover, business operations quickly rise into the black. However, a future with Tradeka is uncertain. Elanto cannot survive alone. It must get a partner that is chosen on business grounds.
2004 Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto launches business activities. Business concepts change to fall in line with the S Group's chains and the S Bonus card is introduced at all units.
2005 In October, the new cooperative enterprise celebrates 100 years of cooperative activities in the Greater Helsinki area.
2006 The business activities of 21 Spar stores are transferred to HOK-Elanto, making HOK-Elanto the market leader in the grocery trade in its business area.