Interim report Q1/2021: Best Q1 result in Kesko’s history

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE IN BRIEF:                                                                                                            


  • Group net sales in January-March €2,539.4 million (€2,540.4 million), an increase of 5.9% in comparable terms; reported net sales flat year-on-year
  • Comparable operating profit €116.2 million (€65.1 million), up by €51.5 million when Kesko Senukai is treated as a joint venture also for the comparison period (illustrative comparison figures)
  • Operating profit €115.7 million (€65.9 million)
  • Comparable earnings per share €0.20 (€0.08)
  • Reported Group earnings per share €0.20 (€0.09)


  1-3/2021 1-3/2020 1-12/2020
Net sales, € million 2,539.4 2,540.4 10,669.2
Operating profit, comparable, € million 116.2 65.1 567.8
Operating margin, comparable, % 4.6 2.6 5.3
Operating profit, € million 115.7 65.9 600.2
Profit before tax, comparable, € million 99.6 32.7 481.9
Profit before tax, € million 99.2 33.1 527.6
Cash flow from operating activities, € million 155.1 135.7 1,152.4
Capital expenditure, € million 44.2 99.0 398.4
Earnings per share, €, basic and diluted 0.20 0.09 1.09
Earnings per share, comparable, €, basic 0.20 0.08 0.97
  1-3/2021 1-3/2020 1-12/2020
Return on capital employed, comparable, %, rolling 12 months 13.4 9.6 12.0
Return on equity, comparable, %, rolling 12 months 20.0 15.0 17.8

Kesko is reporting Kesko Senukai Group, which is part of Kesko’s building and technical trade segment and operates in the Baltic countries and Belarus, as a joint venture as of 1 July 2020. Kesko Senukai Group was reported as a subsidiary until 30 June 2020. In order to enable the comparison of financial performance indicators between reporting periods, Kesko reports illustrative Group performance indicators to be used alongside indicators based on IFRS consolidated financial statements. In segment data, Kesko Senukai is reported consolidated as a joint venture also for the comparison periods, as this method is used in management reporting.

Illustrative Group performance indicators 1-3/2021* 1-3/2020 1-12/2020
Net sales, € million 2,539.4 2,355.6 10,242.6
Operating profit, comparable, € million 116.2 64.6 553.6
Operating margin, comparable, % 4.6 2.7 5.4
Operating profit, € million 115.7 65.5 540.0

*Reported 1-3/2021

In this interim report, the comparable change % in net sales has been calculated in local currencies and excluding the impact of Kesko Senukai and the acquisitions and divestments completed in 2020 and 2021. The comparable operating profit has been calculated by deducting items affecting comparability from the reported operating profit. The illustrative performance indicators have been calculated for the comparison periods as if Kesko Senukai had been consolidated as a joint venture.


Kesko Group’s outlook is given for the year 2021, in comparison with the year 2020.

Kesko estimates that its comparable operating profit in 2021 will be in the range of €570-670 million. Before, the company estimated that the comparable operating profit would be in the range of €520-620 million. The illustrative comparable operating profit in 2020 was €554 million.

The guidance upgrade is based on better-than-anticipated sales development in all divisions and a more positive outlook for the remainder of the year. Retail sales have continued strong in the grocery trade, while the foodservice business has remained profitable despite the difficult market situation. In the building and technical trade, growth has continued better than anticipated in both B2B and B2C trade. Car trade has also grown compared to last year. At the same time, Kesko has managed to further improve cost efficiency. Expectations for the grocery trade and building and technical trade regarding the remainder of the year are more positive than before.

It is still difficult to anticipate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and consequently the range for the 2021 comparable operating profit guidance remains wide.


Kesko had another record quarter, posting its all-time best Q1 result. Sales grew in all our divisions. Our net sales increased by 5.9% in comparable terms, totalling €2,539.4 million. Our comparable operating profit totalled €116.2 million, representing an increase of €51.1 million. In addition to sales growth, we have been constantly able to improve our operations and cost efficiency.

On 15 April, we issued a positive profit warning due to strong profit development in the first months of the year and a better-than-anticipated outlook for the remainder of the year.  Our strong profit development meant that we were also able to meet the medium-term financial targets that were raised last year.

In the grocery trade, our strength lies in our extensive network of brick-and-mortar stores combined with efficient online sales and our well-functioning retailer business model. Our strategic goal is to constantly improve customer experiences. Retail sales of groceries grew by 6.1% in January-March, and K Group’s grocery stores continued to gain market share. Of the sales growth in Q1, 48% came from growth in online grocery, and our online grocery sales grew by more than 300%. Profitability continued to improve in the grocery trade division on the back of sales growth and further improved operational efficiency. We also managed to keep our foodservice business in profit despite the difficult market circumstances.

In the building and technical trade division, we achieved a record result thanks to the execution of our country-specific strategies and increased demand. Net sales for the division were up by 7.7% in comparable terms. Positive development continued for K-Rauta and Onninen in Finland. In Norway, sales and profitability increased in all operations, and in Sweden, K-Rauta and K-Bygg did well in the market. We have been able to ensure good product availability also under exceptional circumstances. We will continue the execution of our growth strategy in the building and technical trade, seeking growth both organically and through acquisitions.

In the car trade division, sales returned to pre-pandemic levels in both new and used car sales. Net sales for the division grew by 16.8%. The positive development was aided by our competitive range and the improved availability of cars. During the reporting period, we updated the strategy for the car trade division, focusing even more on transformation and improving customer experience. 

Our growth strategy is working, and sets us up well also for upcoming years. In the grocery trade, we are well-positioned to increase sales further by utilising our strengths. In the building and technical trade, the strong execution of country-specific strategies will support growth and further profitability improvement also going forward. In the car trade, we will continue measures to transform our operations and improve profitability.

Kesko is one of the leading operators in digital trade in Northern Europe, with e-commerce sales of nearly  €1.3 billion. We have a strong foothold in online sales to both consumers and B2B customers. Our online stores are growing rapidly, thanks to our functional and successfully executed digital strategy. We estimate that the online grocery market in Finland will grow significantly during this decade. We aim to maintain a clear market-leading position in Finnish online grocery trade also going forward.

The outlook for 2021 is positive. We estimate that Kesko’s comparable operating profit in 2021 will be in the range of €570-670 million. It is still difficult to anticipate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and consequently the range for our 2021 comparable operating profit guidance remains wide.


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