Axel Johnson’s year-end report 2023


Strong results, continued transformation, and a starting point for the next doubling

The year 2023 can be summarized as yet another strong year for Axel Johnson. Revenue amounted to SEK 126.5 (118.2) billion and profitAX* to SEK 4.4 (4.4) billion. Over the past ten years, the Group’s revenue and profit have doubled, and the goal is for a repeat performance during the next decade.

Axel Johnson CEO Thomas Ekman says:

“We are proud to be able to sum up yet another strong year in a turbulent world. But above all, we are satisfied with the big opportunities ahead of us during the current year and many years to come.

“As we look forward, we see good opportunities for growth in all our group companies. This is true for the coming year as well as in a longer perspective. During the previous ten years, Axel Johnson has doubled. And our goal is to do it again over the upcoming decade as well.

“The largest impact in terms of profit during 2023 was due to the development in three of our companies. In a grocery market characterized by a focus on affordability and squeezed margins, Axfood grew faster than competitors due to the success of Willys and Hemköp. Our industrial group Axel Johnson International continued to proceed along its growth path, both organically and through acquisitions, and noted yet another strong improvement in profitability. Restaurant and catering wholesaler Martin & Servera also improved its profits, a strong feat considering the restaurant industry slowed down during the fall due to the financial situation.

“Just as important as the years’ profit is that we continue to keep up with our transformation towards our 10/50 goal, which means that within a 10-year period, 50 percent of what we do should be new things we are not doing today. After nine years, we have made it to 46 percent. A part of transformation means sometimes divesting companies, and after 22 years of ownership, we sold beauty company Kicks to the Danish market leader Matas. With this, over a two-year period we have divested Åhléns and Kicks, which were our two large players within discretionary retail.

“These steps have made us a more clearly defined group, with four large operating companies – Axfood, Axel Johnson International, Dustin and Martin & Servera. In addition, we have Novax, which develops small and medium-sized growth companies with the task to create possible future group companies for Axel Johnson, and AxSol which has a similar role but with a specific focus on solar energy and closely related sectors.

“During 2023, we also set out the long-term direction for our sustainability efforts through expanding our transformation efforts to 10/50/50, where the second 50 represents our ambition to decrease our carbon footprint by 50 percent over a ten-year period. This is an ambitious goal outside the map we can see today, but to create momentum we are convinced we need to set goals that force us to think in new and big ways, and to combine business with social benefit. One of our strengths is that we can take advantage of the perspective of a family-owned company’s strong values, inclusive culture, long-term thinking and impatience.”

*ProfitAX is EBT according to IFRS for the listed companies, and EBT excluding goodwill amortization, adjustments of contingent consideration, items affecting comparability and discontinued operations for the non-listed companies. ProfitAX is used to facilitate comparability between Group companies and other listed companies outside the Group, and comparisons between years.

Group Companies

The industrial group Axel Johnson International reported record profits of SEK 1,633 (1,322) million, through a continued combination of organic and acquisitive growth. This was despite a turbulent market where the acquisition pace was slower than usual during the second half of the year. Over the past five years, Axel Johnson International has nearly doubled its revenues and more than doubled its profits.

Axfood had very strong profits of 3,037 (2,935) million and grew yet again faster than the market in stores as well as online. Willys’ combination of affordability and quality has again been particularly successful, but Hemköp has also taken market share in relation to comparable competitors. Axfood has made continued large investments in the logistics platform that will create scalability and efficiency during the coming years.

Dustin faced a challenging market where above all, small and medium-sized company customers were cautious, and profits amounted to SEK 237 (630) million. We have, by participating in a rights issue and through increasing our ownership share, shown that we believe strongly in Dustin, and we can start to see the signs of an improvement in the economy that Dustin will be able to well take advantage of, considering its strong position in the Nordic and Benelux regions.

Sweden’s leading restaurant and catering specialist Martin & Servera yet again succeeded in reporting record results. Despite a tough restaurant market, profits amounted to SEK 504 (489) million, with an increased market share. During the year, Martin & Servera continued the transformation of its delivery fleet away from fossil fuels and in addition, climate targets were aligned with the Science Based Targets.

Our investment business Novax has continued to develop and invest within its focus areas of preventive health, future food and technical security. In the area of food, Novax created the Ingå Group, with the ambition of building a leading European group within sustainable functional ingredients for food production. Within health, both the fitness chain STC and dental care chain Aqua Dental reported good growth and development pace during the year.

AxSol’s majority owned companies Solkompaniet and EnergiEngagemang are both leading players in the Swedish market for large-scale solar power, a market that has been challenging during the year, with a retracement after a very strong 2022. AxSol is as well an owner of listed Oslo-based company Otovo, a marketplace for solar power for households, which also experienced a slowdown during 2023 and during the fall offered a new rights issue. Solar’s share of electricity production continues to be at a very modest level in Sweden and other Nordic countries compared to nearby countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, and we see big opportunities for future growth, not least within large-scale solar energy parks.

Axel Johnson's 2023 Result

Group Companies