The landscape of the Nordic food retail market is rapidly and dramatically reshaping, and yesterday three retail groups announced they were forming a joint purchasing company to streamline and strengthen their purchasing activities.

Axfood of Sweden, Norway´s NorgesGruppen and Dagrofa of Denmark said they will form the new company, to be named United Nordic, in respond to the consolidation in the supply chain.

“Some of (the suppliers) are global, some have the whole Nordic region as their home market, and we have to follow that trend,” Axfood managing director Mats Jansson said. He stressed, however, that the cooperation would be limited to the respective group´s purchasing operations, and he declined to comment whether the pact would be followed by any changes in the ownership of the companies or further steps towards a merger.

“The long-term ambition of Axfood is to get established in the other Nordic countries. My goal is to build alliances or find other ways of close partnerships. I have no concrete plans of that kind today,” Mr Jansson said.

Axfood is Sweden´s third largest food retail group with a turnover of 33.5bn Skr and a 1999 market share of 22.5%. (The figures are proforma, since the group was formed in March 2000 through the merger of Hemköp and the D&D Group). Norgesgruppen is Norway´s leading food chain with a market share of 33.2%. Dagfroa, part of the Supergros group, had a turnover of 6.3bn Dkr last year and a market share of 8.3%.