Axfood takes market shares from ICA

Axfoods headquarters, Torsplan, Hagastaden, Stockholm. Photo: Gustav Kaiser/
Axfoods headquarters, Torsplan, Hagastaden, Stockholm. Photo: Gustav Kaiser/

8 February 2024 09:06

Axfood takes market shares from ICA

With a surprisingly robust growth in the fourth quarter for both Willys and Hemköp, Axfood once again proved its ability to gain market share in Sweden, writes Kepler Cheuvreux Carnegie in an analysis. The investment bank repeats its “buy” recommendation and target price of SEK 330 for the Axfood share.

Axfood in numbers

4th quarter

• Axfood Group: 16 507 (15 180).

• Willys: 11 323 (10 378).

• Hemköp: 5 184 (4 801).


• Group: 744 (502).

• Willys: 469 (425).

• Hemköp: 77 (76).

Operating margin:

• Group: 3,6 (2,5).

• Willys: 4,1 (4,1).

• Hemköp: 3,9 (4,2).


• Group: 63 703 (55 721).

• Willys: 43 763 (37 458).

• Hemköp: 19 940 (18 263).


• Group: 14,3 %.

• Willys: 16,8 %.

• Hemköp: 9,2 %.


• Group: 3 353 (3 101).

• Willys: 2 077 (1 859).

• Hemköp: 300 (283).

Operating margin

• Group: 4,1 (4,2).

• Willys: 4,7 (5,0).

• Hemköp: 4,0 (4,3).

We can conclude that ICA (still the market leader) has never feared Axfood [i]and CEO Klas Balkow as much as now, with good reasons, which we will come back to in due time.

Even the margins at Axfood exceeded expectations in the quarter.

“We believe that falling purchasing inflation can contribute to lowering the gross margins for groceries and we see an upside of 30-40 basis points in the EBIT margin from the group's new logistics center,” concludes Kepler Cheuvreux.

Axfood breaks turnover record

Axfood's retail turnover amounted to just over 16.5 billion kroner in the fourth quarter of 2023, corresponding to a growth of 8.7 percent compared to the same period one year ago and higher than the Dagligvaruindex of 6.0 percent.

"With the growth during the fourth quarter and the consistently high growth during the year as a whole, we as a group passed 80 billion kroner in net sales for the first time. For several years, Hemköp has worked to clarify its position with a high rate of modernization in the retail sector, investments in “price/value” and important moves in the area of sustainability. It has created the right conditions and is now contributing to Hemköp's fine development, which forms a good base to work on from to take further steps forward", says Klas Balkow in a press release.

Group level increase

At the group level, Axfood online also increased in the last quarter, with a high of 8.1 percent against the industry's low of 1.3 percent.

E-commerce's share of Axfood's total turnover is also higher for the rest of the market, at 5.3 versus 4.3 percent. For the full year 2023, Axfood presents a total retail growth of 14.3 percent, twice as high compared to the market's 7.5 percent.

Willys continues to drive growth with a high rate of 16.8 percent, while Hemköp delivered an increase of 9.2 percent. During 2024, Axfood plans to set up between 10 and 15 new stores, the majority of which will be Willys.

"We enter the new year with a strong position that provides good conditions for continuing to attract new customers and strengthen the loyalty of existing ones, as well as becoming more efficient in the back end as our new logistics initiatives are put into full use,” Klas Balkow resonates.

Sources: Axfood, Dagligvarunytt, Danske Bank, Kepler Cheuvreux Carnegie.

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[i] Axfood have several similarities with, and cooperate with NorgesGruppen. Both are dominated by one family, respectively Johnson and Johannson. They both have a significant collaboration over many years, especially on the purchasing side for international products. They also own Eurocash together. However, Axfood is listed on the stock exchange, NorgesGruppen is not.