The bosses for both the Rimi and ICA Supermarked chains have been fired after their local parent ICA Norge was hit with more heavy losses. The grocery stores owned by the ICA group of Sweden face an uncertain future, but ICA’s leaders aren’t giving up on their Norwegian operations yet.
ICA is still doing well with its Swedish and Baltic operations, but its Rimi and ICA stores in Norway are struggling against the dominant NorgesGruppen and other competitors like Reitan and Coop. A pending deal fir ICA to cooperate on some purchasing and distribution with NorgesGruppen, which owns the Meny and Kiwi chains among many others, was at least temporarily blocked by competition authorities in Norway earlier this month on fears it would make Norges Gruppen even more powerful in the Norwegian market. Others argue that without it, ICA may finally have to pull out of Norway, leaving Norwegian consumers who already face the highest grocery prices in the world with even fewer choices.
ICA Norge boss Thorbjørn Theie told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that it almost would have been better if the authorities had firmly rejected the deal instead of simply putting it on hold, because of the uncertainty ICA now faces. Now he’s fired his local chain bosses in a move to bring “new thinking” into he operation, with the new boss for Rimi coming from poultry and meat giant Nortura and the new ICA Supermarked boss coming from NorgesGruppen, where she headed its Spar chain.
Many Norwegian consumers continue, meanwhile, to head over the border to shop in Sweden, where prices are much lower and selection much higher. New figures recently released by HUI Research of Sweden calculated that Norwegians made 12.1 million trips over the border last year, compared to 9.5 million in 2011, and spent around NOK 20 billion.