Around the turn of the millennium the family-owned company Axel Johnson AB set out to create Sweden’s best food company. The idea was to gather the best wholesalers and retailers and offer customers the finest stores. Axfood was formed through the combination of Hemköpskedjan, Dagab and D-gruppen.
Young company with rich heritage
Axfood is a young company with a rich heritage. The grocer “Spik-Olle” opened the first Hemköp store back in 1958. Willys’ predecessor, LL:s Livs – with “ridiculously low prices” – was started in 1975, and Willy Schlees opened his first discount grocery store in Kungsbacka in 1986.
By combining the right companies the right way, strong synergies are created. The formation of Axfood led to the companies Willys, Hemköp, Snabbgross and Dagab.
Affordable, good and sustainable food for everyone
Sustainability has always been a guiding principle at Axfood. Apart from offering good and sustainable food, the goal of the business is to have as little environmental impact as possible. In 2009 we set a target to be climate neutral by 2020 at the latest. A year later we were one of the initiative-takers behind the Haga Initiative, a company network that works to reduce carbon emissions from the business sector.
In 2015 Axfood – together with Stockholms Stadsmission – started Matmissionen, Sweden’s first social supermarket. The idea is to offer financially disadvantaged people groceries at reduced prices. At the same time, Matmissionen helps Axfood reduce its food waste.
Private label products selected with care
In 2008 we began launching products under our own private label, Garant. Garant grew, especially in organic food, and quickly became popular among customers.
In 2013 a major effort was undertaken to evaluate and update the Eldorado assortment, with the goal to continue offering quality products at low prices. Fixa, Axfood’s private label for household products, was also upgraded with new packaging and a new design.
In 2016 Axfood entered the baby and child care segment with a line of products under the Minstingen private label, and in 2017 we re-launched the Såklart private label, a brand of climate-smart skin care products.
One new arrival in 2020 is the Gastrino private label of products specially developed for restaurants and foodservice operators.
Axfood’s private label products are selected with care to ensure that everyone can eat good and sustainable food every day. They are a key element of our business, and we continue to develop our private label products in an effort to give customers attractively priced quality alternatives.
Ventures in urbanization, cross-border shopping and e-commerce
In 2014, Axfood became a part owner of Stockholm-based Urban Deli, an all-embracing concept that combines bars, restaurants, food market, cafés and grocery store under one roof. During 2018 Axfood increased its ownership in Urban Deli to just over 90 percent.
In 2016 Willys and Hemköp began offering online shopping, both for home delivery and store pick-up. E-commerce continues to grow, and in total Willys offered online shopping at 78 stores in 40 cities as of year-end 2019. At the same time, Hemköp offered online shopping at 19 stores in 9 cities.
In early 2017 Axfood acquired Mat.se, a food retailer with a strong position online. At the same time, Axfood acquired Middagsfrid, the world’s first company to market pre-defined dinner solutions with recipes.
In 2017, Axfood also took a step into the cross-border shopping segment through the acquisition of Eurocash, a chain that by the end of 2019 had seven grocery stores from Strömstad in the south to Storlien in the north. The majority of customers are Norwegians who cross the border into Sweden to do their grocery shopping.
During 2017, the company also invested in the startup of an online pharmacy, Apohem, with the ambition to broaden the Group's offering and enter the growing online pharmacy market.
Europe's largest logistics center
In 2019, the construction of Axfood's new, highly automated logistics center in Bålsta north of Stockholm began with an organization and platform unique in its kind. The logistics center is adapted to deliver food and other goods to around 10 million people, by supplying goods either to stores, to the service trade or to e-commerce customers. The logistics center in Bålsta will be the hub for large parts of Axfood's logistics operations for both Stockholm and Mälardalen and north.
Acquisition of Bergendahls Food and minority stake in City Gross
In order to complete the Axfood group and create increased competitiveness, Axfood made grocery history in autumn 2021 in connection with the acquisition of the wholesale business Bergendahls Food and the conclusion of a long-term partnership with the supermarket chain City Gross as well as a minority stake of 9.9 percent.
A sustainable future
Today Axfood is one of the Nordic region’s largest listed food retail companies and the industry’s second largest player in Sweden. Our journey continues, with more attractively priced and quality products in inspiring store environments and with a constant focus on sustainability.