Closures loom as Coop losses increase

Despite an ongoing cost-cutting programme Coop Sverige made a loss of 491 million kronor last year - a considerable deterioration compared to the previous year.

Coop Denmark and Coop Sweden both returned profits.

“We didn’t keep up with the competition on prices in time,” said Coop Sweden’s managing director Thomas Evertsson to TT.

The Swedish operation has been in a state of crisis for many years. 2004’s loss of 100 million kronor was just a taster and the almost half billion kronor deficit in 2005 has hit the overall results of Coop Norden hard. Profit for the parent company slumped from 209 million kronor in 2004 to 68 million kronor last year.

Consequently Norwegian Coop has decided to hive off the Swedish operation to avoid being dragged down by its losses. Last summer a national management team was reintroduced but there are no plans to split up the company.

“The issue is not under consideration today,” said Evertsson.

However, the company is implementing a series of savings measures. The details are yet to be revealed but it is clear that many smaller stores will be ditched. Costs must be reduced by hundreds of millions of kronor a year.

“It will mean staff cutbacks but I can’t say how many hundreds it will be,” said Thomas Evertsson.

“Despite our savings plans we have in the last four years established 25 supermarkets and 10 superstores. That will lead to efficiencies – customers want big stores.”

Evertsson is also counting on pushing down the prices of suppliers.


Major Swedish supermarket chain hit by cyberattack

One of Sweden's biggest supermarket chains said Saturday it had to temporarily close around 800 stores nationwide after a cyberattack blocked access to its checkouts.

Major Swedish supermarket chain hit by cyberattack
A Coop store in Stockholm. credit: Ali Lorestani/TT

“One of our subcontractors was hit by a digital attack, and that’s why our checkouts aren’t working any more,” Coop Sweden, which accounts for around 20 percent of the sector, said in a statement.

“We regret the situation and will do all we can to reopen swiftly,” the cooperative added.

Coop Sweden did not name the subcontractor or reveal the hacking method used against it beginning on Friday evening.

But the Swedish subsidiary of the Visma software group said the problem was linked to a mayor cyber attack on US IT company Kaseya on Friday.

Kaseya has urged customers to shut down servers running its VSA platform after dozens were hit with ransomware attacks.

A wave of ransomware attacks has struck worldwide recently, especially in the United States.

Ransomware attacks typically involve locking away data in systems using encryption, making companies pay to regain access.

Last year, hackers extorted at least $18 billion using such software, according to security firm Emsisoft.

In recent weeks, such attacks have hit oil pipelines, health services and major firms, and made it onto the agenda of US President Joe Biden’s June meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.