Business and industry in Norway - Wholesale and retail trades

Number of employees302 400
Gross product in percentage14,34

The wholesale and retail trades make up a significant part of Norway’s economy, and increased sales have led to the formation of many new companies and a doubling of the number of people employed in this sector over the past 25 years. This industry consists of several parts, such as agents, wholesalers and retailers, all of which are mutually dependent.

From consisting mainly of small companies, there is now a trend towards economies of scale in all parts of the distribution chain, thus giving the retailers greater power at the expense of the manufacturers and wholesalers. This is particularly obvious in the grocery sector, in which four large groups have a market share of more than 80 per cent.

A structural change has occurred in the wholesale and retail industry over the past few years, driven by the grocery sector. Mergers or close collaborations between two or more companies are key trends in the restructuring of this industry. These are in the form of voluntary chains, centrally run multiples or franchises. The trend towards economies of scale throughout is also a part of the wholesale and retail trade’s preparation for increased international competition. Several foreign companies have established themselves in Norway over the past few years, particularly in the textile and clothing industry. Two of the major Norwegian grocery chains are currently starting discount stores in our neighbouring countries, in the Baltic Region and in eastern Europe.

Another trend in this industry is that its geographical structure is changing. When people moved from the outlying regions to towns and cities, many of the outlying shops disappeared and the retail trade became concentrated in shopping centres near to people’s homes. In 1998, the government decided to place a temporary ban on the building of any shopping centres larger than 3 000 m2 outside the centres of towns and cities. This is intended to ensure the existence of town-centre shops and to cut back on the use of cars for shopping.

The Joh. GroupMain supplier of groceries to the Norges Group
The Norges Group, The Hakon Group, Forbrukersamvirket (Cooperative Society) REMAThe umbrella chains in the grocery sector
The Varner GroupThe largest group in the clothing sector
ElkjøpA multiple selling white and brown goods
Alfa Laval ASIntermediate products for industry, agriculture and offshore

Number of employees: National accounts’ figures 1996. Back >
Market share: The Norges Group 28.4%, The Hakon Group 21.9%, Forbrukersamvirket (Cooperative Society) 21.3%, Rema 10.6%. Back >

Wholesale and retail trades

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