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Sweden’s 10 biggest wine importers; includes some names you probably do not know

And a full listing of the 50 biggest suppliers to Systembolaget

Statistics on the size of wine importers is interesting. The ten largest wine importers in Sweden (or more accurately: suppliers to Systembolaget) account for 64% of total sales. On the list there are, curiously, some names that not many people know about.

One of the advantages that we have a state-owned monopoly – Systembolaget – bordering the authority (with the difference that they were not sharing information in the same way as an authority governed by public law) is that you may find interesting statistics on their site.

I have dug deep into the statistics on the largest wine suppliers, ie wine importers in Sweden. It is very interesting and some surprises popped up. Here is a first article on Sweden’s biggest wine importers, or more correctly: suppliers to the monopoly retailer Systembolaget.

(Note: Here is our long list of Swedish wine importers. It is not 100% complete, but it is as complete as can be.)

As you read on, keep in mind two things: Figures are in value. There are also figures for volume. Many people have a tendency to look at the volume when they talk about wine sales, but I think the value is more important. So here all numbers are in value. Furthermore: this deals only with wine. Most importers are also active in other segments (beer, spirits).

A closed Systembolaget shop

A closed Systembolaget shop, copyright BKWine Photography

Sweden’s ten largest wine importers

Which Sweden’s ten largest wine importers are depends a little on how you count. As mentioned, I stick to the value. There is one factor that complicates things: the corporate structure of the companies. Read on.

The largest importer’s turnover is nearly two billion Swedish crowns (SEK) in wine with Systembolaget. Here is the top-ten list:

It should be noted that “turnover” on this page signifies Systembolaget’s turnover, i.e. sales, of products from these suppliers. It is not the importers’ sales to Systembolaget, or the importers’ turnover. The numbers come from Systembolaget’s reporting on how much they themselves have sold (not bought).

10 Biggest Suppliers to Systembolaget, wine, in value (M SEK)
Agglomerated by Groups
Importer / Supplier2013Grwth fm '12Mkt shr
1Altia Group - Total1,786-9.7%10.6%
2Vingruppen Group - Total1,631-2.9%9.7%
3Primewine Group - Total1,420-12.4%8.4%
4Oenoforos Group - Total1,318-2.1%7.8%
5Viva Group - Total1,29839.4%7.7%
6Hermansson & Co AB72412.4%4.3%
7Pernod Ricard Sweden AB672-1.6%4.0%
8Enjoy Wine & Spirits AB65813.4%3.9%
9Treasury Wine Estates Sweden AB616-12.4%3.7%
10Winepartners Nordic AB56228.5%3.3%
Top Ten (Groups)10,6840.8%63.5%

The Finnish company Altia is thus the largest wine importer, followed by Vingruppen. In third place PrimeWine Group.

Several of the names on the list are quite unknown, partly because they usually appear under a different name. Behind the name Altia three importers are concealed, with more familiar names:

  • Bevco AB
  • Bibendum
  • Philipson Söderberg

Altia is a Finnish company owned by the Finnish state (although there are rumours of an impending sale).

The same goes for several others:

Vingruppen:

  • The Wineagency (sic)
  • Vinovum
    • Kajsa Wines
  • Vinunic – the most famous name in the group
  • Wineworld (sic)
    • Yourwineclub

Primewine Group (sic):

  • BGS Wine Import
  • Mondo Wine
  • Multibev (ex Solera)
  • Prime Wine Sweden

Oenoforos:

  • Oenoforos
  • Carovin

And perhaps the least familiar name of all, Viva Wine and Spirits Group:

  • Chris Wine & Spirits
  • Giertz Vinimport
  • Mero Wines
  • The Wine Team (ex Future Wines )
  • Winemarket (sic)

Many billions worth of wine

The top five each have well over one billion SEK in wine sales to Systembolaget.

Together, sales by the ten largest reach just over SEK 10 billion. Only wine that is. Just to Systembolaget.

It may be interesting to note that Pernod Ricard Sweden AB does not come until the seventh place, with a turnover of 670 million SEK. As you may remember (or not) Pernod Ricard bought V & S Vin and Sprit AB a few years ago when the Swedish state sold the former monopoly importer. (V&S Vin & Sprit had the monopoly on wine imports to Sweden until the mid 1990s when imports were liberalised. It remained under state ownership, on a competitive market. A few years back it was sold.) If you go back in the statistics until shortly before PR’s acquisition of V&S Vin & Sprit they had a very dominant position, with well over two billion SEK in sales (wine). Now, this has shrunk dramatically. It might not be so surprising since Pernod Ricard was in particular interested in the spirits portfolio, notably Absolut vodka.

Why this jumble of group companies?

One may wonder why the big wine importers have all these subsidiaries for activities that in reality actually are quite moderate in size. It is also often the same people sitting in management positions in the different companies, so from a purely operational point it seems not meaningful. On the contrary, it must increase administrative costs having several different company structures.

So there is probably some other (hidden?) reason behind it.

One theory is that one wants to avoid having competing winemakers being handled by the same company. As an example, if an importer already has a Chablis producer in the portfolio, maybe they would choose to add a second Chablis producer in one of the other subsidiaries. But I doubt that wine producers are so gullible.

A perhaps more important factor is that supposedly Systembolaget has a limit on how many quotes / proposals / tenders one company may make on a particular request for tender (all major purchases are done with a tender procedure). If you then have three subsidiaries each of which can deliver the maximum number of tenders / samples then you have with one fell swoop tripled your chances in the tender lottery. (Some commenters believe that the tender process sometimes is more like a lottery than a quality selection, especially when there are many samples submitted.)

Update: I asked the monopoly about this and as it turns out there are no such rules. So this hypethesis falls, at least partially. Read more in this follow-up article: Why do the wine importers hide behind multiple names?

It would be interesting to hear a comment from one of the importers why there is this maze of group companies.

Shelfing with wine in a Systembolaget shop

Shelving with wine in a Systembolaget shop, copyright BKWine Photography

An alternative picture of the largest suppliers to Systembolaget

If, instead, we ignore the fact that several companies belonging to groups or corporations and instead look at each individual company, registered as a supplier to Systembolaget, then the image becomes a little different. Here is the top-ten list with that (in my opinion not quite correct) view:

10 biggest suppliers to Systembolaget, wine, in value (M SEK)
INDIVIDUAL COMPANIES
Importer/supplier2013Grwth fm '12Mkt shr
1(Oenoforos Grp) Oenoforos AB1,3185.7%7.8%
2(Primewine Grp) Prime Wine Sweden AB1,064-9.9%6.3%
3(Viva Grp) Giertz Vinimport AB89140.2%5.3%
4(Altia Grp) Altia Sweden AB800-9.0%4.8%
5Hermansson & Co AB72412.4%4.3%
6(Vingruppen Grp) Vinunic AB7062.7%4.2%
7Pernod Ricard Sweden AB672-1.6%4.0%
8Enjoy Wine & Spirits AB65813.4%3.9%
9Treasury Wine Estates Sweden AB616-12.4%3.7%
10Winepartners Nordic AB56228.5%3.3%

Then Oenoforos becomes Sweden’s largest wine importer. Oenoforos does have one subsidiary / sister company, Carovin, but the bulk of the business is in the main firm.

Oenoforos followed by Prime Wine Sweden AB in second place, and Giertz Vinimport AB in third. Next comes Altia Sweden AB, Hermansson & Co, VinUnic AB, Pernod Ricard Sweden AB, and Enjoy Wine & Spirits AB (formerly Enosvezia).

Market shares

Altia, the biggest importer, only reaches 10% market share. Less than half of what V&S Vin & Spirit had just before it was sold. Together the ten largest achieve market a share of 64%. A powerful dominance, of course, but maybe not quite as big a market share as I had expected, given the Swedish market’s preference for bag-in-box wines in large volumes.

On the other hand, these figures are in value. Perhaps the market share dominance of the big ones will be more pronounced if you look at the volume figures.

If we take all the fifty largest wine suppliers to Systembolaget, they have together a market share at almost exactly 95%.

In fact, it would be more correct to say “share of the sales to Systembolaget” instead of market share. One must remember that Systembolaget itself has a market share of just over 50%, ie the monopoly delivers just over half of the alcohol that we consume. The rest is traveller’s imports (carried personally across the border), restaurant consumption, smuggling, home brewing, etc.

Restaurant table with clown

Restaurant table with clown, copyright BKWine Photography

The 50 largest wine importers

Here you have the entire list of the 50 largest wine importers (wine suppliers to Systembolaget) in 2013:

50 Biggest Suppliers to Systembolaget, wine, in value (M SEK)
GrpIndvSupplier / Importer2013GrwthMkt shr
1Altia Group - Total 1,786 -9.7%10.6%
2Vingruppen Group - Total 1,631 -2.9%9.7%
3Primewine Group - Total 1,420 -12.4%8.4%
1Oenoforos Grp - Oenoforos AB 1,318 5.7%7.8%
4Oenoforos Group - Total 1,318 -2.1%7.8%
5Viva Group - Total 1,298 39.4%7.7%
2Primewine Grp - Prime Wine Sweden AB 1,064 -9.9%6.3%
3Viva Grp - Giertz Vinimport AB89140.2%5.3%
4Altia Grp - Altia Sweden AB800-9.0%4.8%
65Hermansson & Co AB72412.4%4.3%
6Vingruppen Grp - Vinunic AB7062.7%4.2%
77Pernod Ricard Sweden AB672-1.6%4.0%
88Enjoy Wine & Spirits AB65813.4%3.9%
99Treasury Wine Estates Sweden AB616-12.4%3.7%
1010Winepartners Nordic AB56228.5%3.3%
Top Ten (Groups) 10,684 0.8%63.5%
11Altia Grp - Bibendum539-4.4%3.2%
1112Spendrups Bryggeri AB48033.3%2.9%
13Vingruppen Grp - The WineAgency Sweden AB4694.1%2.8%
1214Arvid Nordquist Vin och Sprithandel45422.2%2.7%
15Altia Grp - Philipson Söderberg AB446-16.3%2.7%
16Vingruppen Grp - WineWorld AB400-13.6%2.4%
1317Concha y Toro Sweden AB3754.4%2.2%
1418NigAB3381.0%2.0%
15Fondberg Group - Total31010.6%1.8%
1619Stellan Kramer AB289-2.4%1.7%
1720Henkell & Co Sverige AB282-1.1%1.7%
21Viva Grp - The Wine Team (ex-Future Wine)28080.5%1.7%
1822janake wine group AB24725.4%1.5%
1923Apricot AB24719.5%1.5%
24Primewine Grp - Mondo Wine Sweden AB236-12.3%1.4%
25Fondberg Grp - Fondberg216-23.2%1.3%
20Sigva Group - Total213-2.1%1.3%
2126Domaine Wines Sweden AB2041.0%1.2%
2227Kiviks Musteri AB203-6.8%1.2%
2328Johan Lidby Vinhandel AB17520.0%1.0%
2429Ward Wines AB15735.7%0.9%
2530Supreme Wine & Spirit AB151135.6%0.9%
2631Selezione Barbro Guaccero149-3.5%0.9%
32Viva Grp - Chris-Wine AB127-9.7%0.8%
2733Bornicon & Salming120-2.3%0.7%
2834Hjo Grosshandel AB119-30.7%0.7%
35Sigva Grp - Sigva AB1131.9%0.7%
2936Moët Hennessy Sverige AB1090.7%0.6%
37Sigva Grp - Vinia Sweden AB101-6.1%0.6%
38Fondberg Grp - Modern Wines Sweden AB95-0.6%
3039Freixenet Nordic AB845.8%0.5%
3140Bacardi AB83-5.6%0.5%
3241Miguel Torres74-4.5%0.4%
3342Amka Vinimport AB73-24.4%0.4%
3443Stockholm WineLab AB72-0.4%
3544Tryffelsvinet AB6413.2%0.4%
45Primewine Grp - Multibev AB (ex-Solera)64-33.9%0.4%
46Vingruppen Grp - Vinovum AB56-28.7%0.3%
3647Divine AB5630.8%0.3%
48Primewine Grp - BGS Wine Import56-25.6%0.3%
3749Concealed Wines AB52-0.3%
3850Vinovativa AB51-0.3%
Total 50 biggest15,915 3.4%94.6%
Others9017.2%5.4%
Totalt (wine) 16,815 3.6%100.0%
Notes:
"Group Totals" exclude group companies outside the top 50
The numbers concern ONLY WINE. Many companies have significant non-wine activites.
In Systembolaget's statistics they only specify individual suppliers. Group numbers are inferred.

I will be back with more articles on the analysis of Systembolaget’s suppliers and the wine market in Sweden.

You can also se our (almost) complete list of all Swedish wine importers here.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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8 Responses to Sweden’s 10 biggest wine importers; includes some names you probably do not know

  1. Christine June 20, 2014 at 13:42 #

    very interesting paper.
    Another answer to your question “Why this jumble of group companies?” could be: to hide some side effects of the monopoly. The risk of creating other monopolies does exist and monopolies are not that popular in the EC.

    • Per Karlsson June 21, 2014 at 10:22 #

      What “side effects” are you thinking about?

  2. Sergi October 28, 2014 at 21:16 #

    Interesting post!
    we will investigate to add them to our wine distributors database

  3. Elias November 30, 2015 at 09:40 #

    Very interesting article. I can’t seem to find the list of wines Systembolaget has online. Can you please help me with that?

    I would love to know the Lebanese wines that Systembolaget has in stock!

    • Per Karlsson November 30, 2015 at 10:27 #

      Have you tried the Systembolaget site?

      • Elias November 30, 2015 at 10:34 #

        I did, but for some reason, the translation is covering parts of the website, and i can’t find what i am looking for. And i can’t speak Swedish.
        Any link would be much appreciated.

        • Per Karlsson November 30, 2015 at 10:51 #

          Should be pretty easy to use it in Swedish. Search is “Sök” in Swedish. Easy to find. And Lebanon is “Libanon” in Swedish.

          • Elias November 30, 2015 at 11:50 #

            Thank you Per. Turns out they import 5 different bottles of Lebanese wine. Have a good day!

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