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Doing good together, locally
A local approach and K-retailers are the competitive advantages of the K-Group. Retailers know the local community and the needs of their customers. Together with its customers and partners, Kesko is building a better society.
At the end of 2012, Kesko had 1,210 K-retailer entrepreneurs as partners. In Finland, all food and building and home improvement stores in the K-Group are run by K-retailer entrepreneurs.
In 2012, 65 new K-retailers started their careers. Approximately one fifth of all K-retailers are female, while many of the K-stores are family enterprises, headed by a retailer couple.
The K-retailers are responsible for their stores’ customer satisfaction, personnel and business profitability. K-retailers listen to the wishes of their local customers, creating the selection and services that respond to their needs. The common selection of the chain is, for instance, complemented with local food from nearby producers.
Future K-retailers are trained by the retailer training programmes. The training consists of online studies, on-the-job training under a mentor retailer and regional and nationwide classroom instruction sessions.
K-retailer entrepreneurship highlighted in its anniversary year
The K-Retailers’ Association, which looks after the interests of and promotes co-operation between K-retailers, has all of the 1,210 K-retailers as members. The K-Retailers’ Association’s duties include enhancing and strengthening K-retailer entrepreneurship and promoting K-retailers’ interests in the trading sector.
The K-Retailers’ Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and K-retailer entrepreneurship was made known in many ways during the year. ‘K100, the K-Retailers’ Association 1912–2012’, which tells the one-hundred-year history of the K-Retailers’ Association, K-retailers and the K-Group as part of the development of Finnish commerce and society, was published in early 2012.
Many retailers participated in the discussion about the significance of entrepreneurship in society at the main festival of the annual Entrepreneur Event in Tampere and also in the discussion organised in the SuomiAreena radio channel in Pori. The ‘Encounters in K-stores’ competition tempted nearly 1,700 customers to reminisce and tell about their recollections over the years. The stories were published in the Pirkka, Kehittyvä Kauppa and Kauppias magazines as well as on the website of the K-Retailers’ Association.
Support for children and the young
In 2012, Kesko and its subsidiaries gave financial support worth approximately €0.9 million to various communities and organisations.
The main emphasis in Kesko’s and K-stores’ sponsorship activities is on providing support to children and the young. At any given time, Kesko’s sponsorship is targeted on a few projects that affect a large number of consumers.
For 15 years now, Kesko has been promoting an active lifestyle and the wellbeing of children, families with children and the young in cooperation with the Young Finland Association. In 2012, Kesko participated in the regional competition of the Association’s Your Move Taisto campaign for physical activity.
Good Christmas Spirit
The Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare annually organise a Christmas Spirit collection to help Finnish low-income families with children. The collection is implemented in cooperation with three media channels – YLE Morning TV, YLE Radio Suomi, YLE Radio Vega – and Kesko. The funds donated to the collection are used to distribute gift vouchers that the families can use at K-food stores to buy food for Christmas.
In 2012, consumers could, for the first time, also participate in the collection by donating their K-Plussa points. Kesko’s Board of Directors donated €40,000 to the collection, which generated about €1.4 million in all. Vouchers of €70 each were given to 18,000 families.
“Through our Facebook pages, we have received dozens of messages from mothers thanking us for the voucher and saying that €70 is a lot of money for their families and saves their Christmas,” says Sanna Räsänen, Communications Officer for the Finnish Red Cross, who has participated in organising the collection for many years.
Cooperation with partners
Kesko requires that its suppliers and other partners act in compliance with Kesko’s values and responsible operating principles.
Cooperation with partners requires a regular dialogue. Kesko Food organises an annual information event for its suppliers. In November 2012, nearly 600 people gathered in Helsinki to hear about the competitive advantages provided by K-food stores, Kesko Food’s expansion into Russia and the shift of customer encounters to electronic channels.
“Customer relationships are undergoing a change: we have an increasing number of active and demanding consumers aged over 65, while for the young, on the other hand, the web is omnipresent. As competition for customers is escalating and getting more complex, we must also be present in electronic channels forecasting and interpreting customer needs. We are shifting from mass marketing towards an interactive business model. While this is an opportunity for us, it also presents a risk if we don’t keep up with the change,” said President and CEO Matti Halmesmäki at Kesko Food’s partner information event.
Stores as a meeting place
Retail stores offer various shopping and other services and act as meeting places in many localities.
About 170 K-stores also provide postal services in their neighbourhood. Smartpost parcel terminals will be installed in all K-citymarkets by the end of 2013. Customers can order their online purchases to a Smartpost terminal and pick them up during their shopping trips.
Tests of the cashback service started in 30 K-markets across Finland in November 2012. The experience gained so far has been positive and the aim is to expand the service nationwide in K-food stores during 2013.
Pilot projects for testing electronic price displays and self-service checkouts in retail stores were also launched in 2012.