Norway's Reitan Retail has reported a drop in operating profit for 2021 from the previous year's record and said it was ready to resume growth in groceries and other businesses ahead of a planned stock-market listing.
The family-owned company, which has more than 3,800 convenience stores, grocery outlets and petrol stations in the Nordic and Baltic region, also appointed an independent board chair.
Operating profit (EBIT) for the full year eased to NOK 3.8 billion (€370 million) from NOK 4.4 billion (€430 million) in 2020, but was still up from the NOK 3.0 billion earned in 2019.
After posting system-wide sales growth in 2020 of 9%, an unusually strong number reflecting lockdowns that restricted travel and restaurants during the pandemic, sales at Reitan's stores were flat year-on-year in 2021 at NOK 104 billion (€10.16 billion).
'Profitable And Sustainable Growth'
Now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the company expects "profitable and sustainable growth", its chief executive, Ole Robert Reitan, said.
“We have what it takes to strengthen our position, renew our portfolio and create profitable and sustainable growth."
A surge of inflation, hitting double digits in the Baltic region and also rising in Nordic nations, has not disrupted business.
"We're monitoring the situation but we're not seeing supply challenges or price pressure beyond the general inflation," the CEO added.
The company announced in 2020 that it aimed for an initial public offering (IPO), although the family intends to maintain a majority stake.
"We continue to follow our plan to go public," Reitan said, but delined to give a time-line.
The board will now be chaired by Rune Bjerke, the former CEO of Norway's largest bank DNB.
Reitan Retail's operation has 42,000 employees across seven countries and includes the REMA 1000 chain of discount grocery stores, 7-Eleven and other kiosk-style outlets as well as the Uno-X Mobility petrol and electric car charging stations.