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Alko online drinks shop sales exceed expectations

Finland’s alcohol sales monopoly Alko opened an online shop late last year, a historic move in a country where alcohol policy has been strictly regulated for decades. Orders surpassed forecasts in the first few months of the web shop's operations.

Kolme pulloa, joissa on puna- ja valkoviiniä sekä samppanjapullo.
Image: Juha-Pekka Inkinen / Yle

Sales in the state-owned alcohol retailer’s new online shop have started out briskly, according to the Alko chain’s financial statement from 2016. In November and December, customers made over 10,000 orders via the internet, making the online shop the largest sales outlet for those months.

Alko opened its online store to businesses in August 2016 and to the general public in November.

"The online shop has surpassed our expectations," said Alko's CEO Hille Korhonen in a press release.

According to the statement, overall sales fell by half a million litres in 2016 on the previous year, but the company's turnover improved. Net sales including alcohol tax totalled 1.16 billion euros and operating profit came to 46.6 million euros.

"The sales by volume of spirits decreased by 1.6 per cent and brewery products by 1.4 per cent. Sales by volume of mild wines remained at the same level," it says.

The financial statement also speaks of Alko's vision for the future: a network of several "mutually supportive service channels" that include the web shop, collection points, a customer service centre and specialised stores.

Selling alcohol and preventing harmful effects at the same time

Alko is the only company in Finland allowed to retail alcoholic beverages of more than 4.7 percent alcohol content. Its mandate specifically includes "reducing the harmful effect of alcohol consumption".

According to the company's 2016 financial statement, 60 percent of Finns consider the restrictions imposed by the country's alcohol policy to be either suitable or would like to see it even more tightly restricted. In contrast, 32 percent would like to relax the restrictions.

The company states that 62 percent of Finns think the institution of Alko is a good way to limit the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, while 83 percent are of the opinion that Alko has achieved its objectives somewhat or very well.

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