“Events around the world and in ICA Gruppen’s various markets require us to provide highly attractive offerings that give people value for money. Our long-term strategy remains firmly in place – but to meet the rapid and significant changes that are taking place we are now focusing even more on activities and initiatives around value for money, loyalty and costs.”
Nina Jönsson, CEO of ICA Gruppen
Sales in 2022
Operating profit 2022*
Operating margin 2022*
* Excluding items affecting comparability
Reopened economies and sharply rising energy prices were factors in the record high inflation in 2022. This was particularly evident in the rising food prices. Food prices rose faster during the year than at any time since the beginning of the 1980s in Sweden. Price development was even more dramatic in the Baltics. Prices increased on essentially all types of food products during the year. The categories that saw the highest increase were basic items such as margarine, coffee, onions and milk.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a humanitarian disaster and has presented entirely new security policy challenges, in Europe and around the world. In addition to human suffering, the war has caused serious disruptions in the global food supply, especially in cereals and artificial fertilisers. This has in turn contributed to the rising food costs.
Electricity prices have risen significantly throughout the EU over the past year. In both Sweden and the Baltic countries prices were periodically at historically high levels. Prices were driven by multiple interacting factors: reduced exports/imports of Russian gas to Europe and other parts of the world, nuclear power plant maintenance and more intermittent electricity in the total energy mix. In addition, insufficient investment in new capacity as well as limitations in the transmission grid between countries and regions have further exacerbated the existing imbalance in the energy market.
Events around the world and in ICA Gruppen’s various markets require us to provide highly attractive offerings that give people value for money. During the year there has been a major focus on value for money, loyalty and costs.
ICA Gruppen’s Stammis loyalty programme also plays a key role in efforts to strengthen ICA Gruppen’s joint offerings. Through the programme customers are awarded points on all purchases made at ICA stores, Apotek Hjärtat, ICA Bank and ICA Insurance. These points can then be converted into a bonus. Access to data-driven customer insights from the loyalty programme provides valuable information on preferences and behaviour – thereby enabling the right offering to be made in the right channel at the right price.
Efforts to make life easier through smart ecosystems of products and services continued during the year. The Stammis loyalty programme plays a key role in this, as does the development and launch of new types of Group-wide offerings to strengthen the organisation as a whole.
Our online offering plays an important role in our endeavour to make every day a little easier for our customers. During the year several major and important steps were taken to improve the customer experience, to better connect the physical and digital channels, and to increase internal efficiency.
ICA Gruppen’s overall goals include reaching net zero emissions by 2030 within the Group’s own operations. By the same year the ambition is to halve the climate impact from customers’ food purchases. This involves numerous activities – from working more closely with food producers, to product assortment changes and campaigns.
Various initiatives are under way within both ICA Sweden and Rimi Baltic aimed at supporting local production and assisting local suppliers in various ways. This work was further intensified in 2022 as a response to the tough market conditions for farmers and local food producers.
ICA Sweden’s partnership with the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) continued during the year. The purpose of this partnership, which began in 2014, is to expand the offering of Swedish products in stores, increase sales of Swedish food and support development and growth in Sweden’s rural areas.
Although Sweden has a long agricultural tradition and is entirely self-sufficient in cereals, the majority of its plant-based food is produced beyond the country’s borders. The ICA Växa (ICA Grow) initiative, which was launched in 2020, provides a framework for bringing together various projects and areas aimed at increasing the percentage of Swedish-produced, plant-based food and encouraging innovation within the food industry. A further aim is to strengthen the local ecosystems between retailers, small businesses and producers.
There is substantial and growing demand for locally produced food – both in Sweden and in the Baltic countries. In 2022 both ICA Sweden and Rimi Baltic continued to increase the number of locally produced items in the product assortment, for example by simplifying sourcing processes for local producers and small businesses.
In 2022 ICA Sweden carried out its largest ever campaign focusing on Swedish and local produce, aimed at showing the commitment of ICA stores to robust rural communities and strong agriculture by communicating the advantages of choosing Swedish and local food and guiding customers to these products in store and online.
The physical stores and pharmacies are still the hub of ICA Gruppen’s operations – and the pace of renewal remained high in 2022. Focus areas included accessibility as well as developing new concepts and securing attractive and safe locations.
To increase the level of service and accessibility, testing of unstaffed, 24-hour grocery stores continued during the year in several locations in Sweden. At the end of 2022 there were 30 unstaffed stores and there are plans to open more in the years ahead. Some will be located adjacent to existing stores while others will be in separate locations. Most of them will be in sparsely populated areas or small towns. Customers use the ICA ToGo app and BankID to enter the stores.
While Apotek Hjärtat continued to develop its physical pharmacies during the year, it also increased its efforts to connect the pharmacy network with online sales. Pharmacies are, for example, increasingly functioning as local warehouses. Customers can shop online but opt to pick up their purchase from the pharmacy of their choice. In Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö express home delivery is also offered, with products being picked, packed and sent directly from larger pharmacies within just a couple of hours.
A pilot project was launched during the year involving drone delivery of groceries. The aim is to more quickly achieve climate-neutral logistics while also continuing to invest in services that help to promote robust rural communities. The project is receiving funding from Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova and is a partnership between ICA Gruppen’s ICAx innovation hub, the start-up Aerit and Norrtälje Municipality.
For the sixth consecutive year ICA Sweden has published a report about future trends in grocery retail. The 2022 edition is about the physical store of the future. The report’s conclusion is that stores will look very different than they do today – based on increasingly diverse customer preferences and needs. Common themes are, however, that the stores need to be far more sustainable and circular than they are today. Areas identified in the report include more nudging, value chain cooperation, “coopetition” (cooperation between actors in the same industry) and sustainable building.
The full report is available at icagruppen.se.
ICA Gruppen wants to promote better public health. During the year the Group continued its efforts to inspire people in various ways to live a healthier life – and thereby make a difference for individuals and society. This includes both preventive activities through encouraging healthy eating and regular exercise, and offering simple healthcare services and advice on both medicines and personal finances. Children and young people make up a prioritized target group.
Both ICA and Rimi Baltic have multiple initiatives to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables. One of the overall goals is to increase customer purchases of fruit and vegetables to consumption equivalent to 500 grams a day by 2025. Specific initiatives during the year included the launch of the new KLART (READY) assortment consisting of fresh food that is prepared and ready to cook.
ICA Gruppen wants to inspire people to move and exercise. ICA Sweden’s initiatives include the ICA Classic sporting challenge, which consists of the same disciplines and distances as the Swedish Classic challenge but with the difference that the various elements can be completed over a longer period of time. ICA Sweden also has a long-standing partnership with Friskis & Svettis aimed at inspiring people to live healthier lives. Rimi Baltic has been partnering for many years with the Rimi Riga Marathon in Latvia, the Vilnius Marathon in Lithuania and the Tallinn Marathon in Estonia.
Increased uncertainty or a direct decline in people’s personal finances can increase the risk of mental illness. To address this problem, ICA Bank increased its focus during the year on providing personal finances advice and practical tips on what to consider in uncertain times. ICA Bank and ICA Insurance are also supporting the initiative Vardagsvän (Everyday Friend), aimed at drawing attention to mental illness among children and young adults.
During the year Apotek Hjärtat and ICA Stiftelsen continued their long-term partnership with the Mind organisation.
To increase knowledge about the menopause and how it affects a woman’s mood, wellbeing or ability to do her job, Apotek Hjärtat launched an initiative during the year called Klimakteriesäkrad arbetsplats (Menopause-friendly Workplace). All Apotek Hjärtat managers have completed this training, which can be found at apotekhjartat.se and is available to all free of charge.
ICA Gruppen’s key step-change areas include becoming more data-driven and, wherever possible, taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics (AA). The potential is substantial – not least in areas such as pricing, assortment and campaigns, but also as regards sustainability and optimisation of the store and pharmacy network.
Data-driven transformation makes it possible to target resources into the right areas to improve sustainability and also to ensure traceability in the value chain. During the year ICA Gruppen developed analytics models that enable it to track the climate footprint in CO2 equivalents for goods sold, using data from the RISE research institute. The new models are considerably more advanced than previous methods, making it possible to measure effects of changes in customer behaviour and also build a better understanding of what is required in order to achieve the ambitious climate goals.
Within ICA Sweden new functionality was launched during the year enabling the impact of campaigns to be monitored as a whole – not just the effect on the individual product, but also on the rest of the assortment. Combined, this puts the Group in a better position to simulate the overall effect of planned campaigns.
Within Apotek Hjärtat data is used to analyse and track the performance of individual pharmacies – given their particular circumstances. Based on data-driven insights, various actions and measures are suggested. Data is also used to support the development of the pharmacy network, including by simulating the consequences of relocation or closure.
Rapid digitalisation, an increase in e-commerce, blurring of industry lines, and new consumption patterns and preferences are fundamentally changing ICA Gruppen’s markets. The pace of change has been high for a long time but has accelerated further due to the pandemic, geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation and rising interest rates. The rapid and major changes in the world around us have resulted in a need for both ICA Gruppen as a whole and individual employees to develop and improve skills in both existing and entirely new areas – faster and to a significantly greater extent than in the past.
The Group strategy is built on a stable foundation supported by our joint strengths and it sets the course for all operations within ICA Gruppen based on the perspectives: Personal & Local, Healthy & Sustainable, Attractive & Data-driven.
Our sustainability work is wide-ranging and includes a variety of activities and initiatives. Our ambitions come together in the concept For a Good Tomorrow, broken down into five defined areas: local, environment, health, inclusion and diversity, and quality.
At ICA we explore, test and create new ways to add smart solutions and provide excellent service in all things, great and small. Welcome to a familiar workplace where everyone’s ideas can make a difference.