Benefits and convenience for co-op members' daily life
"The common goal for us in S Group is to provide our customers, in other words, the co-op members, with unparalleled benefits and convenience from their own store. We will achieve this goal by focusing specifically on matters that are part of co-op members' daily life, such as affordable food and digital services.
In 2016, we successfully continued to lower the prices of food, which was our most significant strategic policy in over a decade. We cover the costs incurred by this by ourselves in full. We do this by achieving savings in energy, IT and marketing expenses, streamlining our operations in many ways, and reducing food loss. Lowering prices has been a successful endeavour. Our customer numbers and sales volumes have increased, driving our growth last year, despite the lowered prices.
Our sales were also boosted by the extended store hours. Since the beginning of last year, stores have been allowed to freely define their opening hours. We offered added convenience to our customers' daily schedules by extending the opening hours of several stores right at the beginning of the year.
The extended store hours in retail and the excellent reception of the change among consumers are good examples of the advantages provided to the domestic market by deregulation. Deregulated store hours returned the entire retail trade to a path of growth and increased employment in the sector. Therefore, I hope that deregulation in the retail sector continues, since the role retail and other service sectors play in our national economy will only strengthen in the future.
We develop services to our co-op members' needs
S Group's digital services developed swiftly last year. Many of the services can be accessed through the S-mobiili app. For example, we introduced the ABC mobile refuelling service – a pioneering application which received an international technology award. In addition, as many as 130,000 co-op members have activated the electronic cash receipt service. The receipts are archived in S-mobiili, and co-op members may discontinue receiving paper receipts completely, if they so wish. A similar service has already been in use for warranty receipts.
In order for us to serve co-op members in the best possible manner, we must identify their needs even more thoroughly. Better customer understanding and digitisation open up completely new opportunities in customer service. In the future, our co-op members will have the option of monitoring the healthfulness or environmental impacts of their purchases. Our investments in digital services will also improve the services of our bricks-and-mortar. We want to provide our customers with the same quality of service, regardless of the service channel.
We will continue to make everyday life easier for co-op members and develop services they request and need. We also want to do our part in order to make Finland an even better place to live. Our new programme, The Best Place to Live, outlines S Group's 100 acts of responsibility, which will help our society move forward. I am convinced that by combining unparalleled services and responsible cooperative values, we will be able to provide our co-op members with even better services and succeed in the ever-tightening competition in the future as well."
Taavi Heikkilä, CEO, SOK
Let's make Finland the Best Place to Live
The UN defined the new Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The Agenda 2030 includes 17 goals covering the prevention of climate change, eradication of inequality, reduction of poverty, and promotion of responsible consumption. These goals apply to us all, companies included. Therefore, the role of companies in sustainable development work carried out together will be increasingly important.
The year 2016 was important in S Group's responsibility work. We released our new Best Place to Live programme, which consists of 100 acts of responsibility, large and small. Our ambitious goal is to make Finland an even better place to live, together with our co-op members.
We perform concrete acts for the good of society, against climate change, for the circular economy, and in order to improve our operating culture of ethics and human rights, and to promote well-being and health.
As a major operator, we want to bear the responsibility for the present moment and for the legacy we will leave behind. The new programme and the objectives set for it will guide our responsibility work until the end of 2020. The programme includes acts, which help extend our horizons.
We will increasingly invest on renewable energy and grow its share. At the end of 2016, as much as half of the electricity we use was produced with renewable energy.
In a world where inequality between people is increasing, the realisation of human rights must be ensured. We are committed to promoting human rights.
Read more about our acts in this annual review and The Best Place to Live programme website.
Responsibility grows from action. Together we are more.
Lea Rankinen, SVP, Sustainability, S Group