Customer-orientation and quality are at the heart of Kesko’s growth strategy. We seek profitable growth both organically as well as via acquisitions in three strategic areas: grocery trade in Finland, building and technical trade in Northern Europe, and car trade in Finland. Improvement in profitability is the result of customer-oriented growth strategies in our divisions, constant improvement in cost efficiency, and efficient capital allocation. We operate as “One unified K” and maximise synergies between our businesses.
We began the execution of our current strategy in 2015. Since then, we have managed to increase the net sales of our core businesses by more than €3 billion, while our comparable operating profit has grown by nearly €250 million. Since 2015, we have invested €2.6 billion in growth, and divested noncore business operations worth €1.0 billion. We continued our profitable growth strategy and strategic investments also during the exceptional year 2020.
Kesko is one of the leading retail companies in Northern Europe. In Finland, which accounts for some 80% of our net sales, Kesko is the biggest trading sector operator, as well as the biggest operator in the Finnish building and technical trade and car trade. We are also one of the biggest operators in the Nordic and Baltic countries, depending on the customer segment. Our objective is to increase our market shares in different operations and to be among the top two operators to ensure economies of scale.
Kesko’s good dividend capacity is based on the strong and steady ability of its businesses to generate cash flow. We aim for a steadily growing, attractive dividend yield. Kesko has paid dividends uninterrupted every year since 1968, and over the past five years, Kesko’s dividend yield has averaged 4.5% a year. Growth in shareholder value is based on making and implementing successful strategic choices and on efficient allocation of capital – these saw Kesko’s comparable return on capital employed amount to 12.0% in 2020.
We have made sustainability and combatting climate change a more central strategic focus area. We are committed to the Paris Climate Agreement goal of mitigating global warming. We aim for carbon neutrality by 2025 and zero emissions by 2030.
Kesko is included in prestigious global sustainability indices, such as the DJSI World, and the A list of the CDP climate change questionnaire, as well as the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World list. We also actively offer our customers information and convenient ways to reduce their carbon footprint.