Kesko’s growth strategy centres on profitable growth in three selected business divisions: grocery trade, building and technical trade, and car trade. Continuous improvement of customer experiences, further development of digital services, and corporate responsibility and sustainability are increasingly central themes for us strategically. We execute our growth strategy both organically and via acquisitions. We operate as ‘One unified K’ and maximise synergies between our business operations.
Our growth strategy, first established in 2015, has proven effective, and its successful execution has seen Kesko’s net sales grow and profitability improve significantly. We have also invested some €3 billion in growth, while divesting non-core businesses worth some €1 billion in total. This has translated into considerable growth in Kesko’s shareholder value. We continued strategic investments also in 2021.
Kesko is one of the leading retail operators in Northern Europe. Finland accounts for some 82% of our net sales, and overall we are the biggest trading sector operator in the country, and number one in building and technical trade and car trade. We are also among the biggest operators in the Nordic and Baltic countries in various customer segments. Our objective is to grow our market shares in various operations, and to be among the top two operators in all our businesses to ensure economies of scale.
Kesko’s good dividend capacity is based on the strong and steady ability of its operations to generate cash flow. Our objective is a steadily growing, attractive dividend yield. Kesko has paid dividends uninterrupted every year since 1968, and over the past five years, our annual dividend yield has averaged 4.3%. Growth in shareholder value is based on making and executing successful strategic choices as well as on efficient allocation of capital – these saw Kesko’s comparable return on capital employed reach 17.2% in 2021.
Business-oriented sustainability actions are increasingly central to Kesko’s strategy. Our objective is to enable more sustainable lifestyles for our customers, and we actively offer them information and easier ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Kesko was the first Finnish company to set emissions reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in 2017; in 2021 we set even more demanding targets that aim at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. In the MSCI ESG Ratings, Kesko recived the highest AAA rating (on a scale of AAA-CCC). In 2021, Kesko was included e.g. in the Dow Jones sustainability index the DJSI World, and made both the Climate ‘A’ List in CDP’s international climate questionnaire and the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’ list.