Irma (supermarket)

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Irma is a high-end chain of supermarkets in Copenhagen and other parts of eastern Denmark.

History[edit]

Origin and growth (1886–1942)[edit]

Karen Marie Schepler's store at Ravnsborggade 13

The Irma chain traces its history back to 1886 when Karen Marie Schepler established a store named Tavnsborggade Mælkeforsyning at Ravnsborggade 13 in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen. Her son Carl Schepler (1870-1942) took it over in 1898. The store started as a retailer of milk and eggs but later expanded into packaged groceries such as tea and sugar. Schepler also opened more stores and changed the name to Carl Scheplers Udsalg. The chain had grown to 110 stores at the time of his death in 1942. [1]

New owners and Børge Olsen (1943–1979)[edit]

None of Schepler's heirs wanted to take over the company and it was therefore sold to a consortium of four egg wholesalers. The name of the stores were changed to Irma in 143 and the Irma girl was adopted as its new logo.

Børge Olsen joined the company as assistant director in 1946 and became managing director in 1951. He converted the chain into a modern supermarket chain, introducing many new initiatives such as self-service and price and date labelling. The first self-service store opened in Nykøbing Falster in 1950.

The chain was sold to Privatbanken, Odense Ægforretning, and Gutenberghus. Børge Olsen, who became known as Irma-Olsen, was managing director until 1979.

FDB's crisis years (1980–1993)[edit]

FDB acquired Irma for DKK 300 million in 1982. FDB unsuccessfully attempted to expand the chain geographically with the opening of three stores in Odense and they closed again in the late 1980s.

The 1980s were crisis years for the Irma chain. Many stores closed and associated activities were sold off. Irma Kantineservice, a food service company with 200 employees, was sold to ISS in 1987, a softdrink factory and Dansk Ægcentral was sold in 1988, the dairy Kongstedlund was sold to MD Foods and Irma's wine bottling plant was sold to Danica in 1990.

In 1993, FDB announced its intention to close the chain. 30 Irma stores were converted to SuperBrugsen stores, 23 were converted to Fakta stores and the remaining 66 stores were put up for sale.

Turn-around and new growth (1994-present)[edit]

The media attention better economic times boosted the sale and the plans to close the chain were therefore cancelled. Jørgen Pedersen was appointed to CEO in 1994 and was succeeded by Alfred Josefsen in 1999.

Irma's headquarters moved from Rødovre to Coop D's headquarters in Albertslund. Alfred Josefsen was succeeded by Jesper Uggerhøj on 1 October 2012.

Stores[edit]

Irma operates stores under two formats: supermarkets and Irma City's convenience stores. It also operates Irma Online internet shopping services.

Supermarkets[edit]

Irma operates a total of some 80 supermarkets of which the majority is located in Copenhagen. The chain is also represented in Gilleleje, Hillerød, Holbæk, Humlebæk, Køge, Næstved, Nykøbing Sjælland and Slagelse.

Irma City[edit]

Irma opened the first Irma City convenience stores in 2001 and now operates at total of four stores in central locations of Inner Copenhagen. They are located at Vesterbros Torv (Vesterbrogade 46) in Vesterbro, Østerbrogade 110 in Østerbro and Nørrebrogade 3 and Nørrebros Runddel (Nørrebrogade 124) in Nørrebro. A fifth Irma City on Falkonér Allé in Frederiksberg closed in 2010.

Axelborg flagship store[edit]

On 22 August 2015, Irma opened a flagship store in the Axelborg.[2]

Product range[edit]

Private label[edit]

Irma sells a wide range of products under private label. In September 2017, Irma closed a contract with the NetEase-owned e-commerce platform Koala for the sale of selected Irma products on the Chinese market. The products include Irma coffee, chocolate and organic baby clothing.[3]

Organic products[edit]

Irma is known for its wide range of organic products and is the supermarket chain in Denmark where organic products account for the largest share of the total sales. At 38 %, Irma on Torvegade in Christianshavn was the supermarket where organic products accounted for the largest share of the total sales worldwide.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "IRMA" (in Danish). Dansk Tændstikmuseum. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Irma åbner fremtidens supermarked på Axelborg" (in Danish). Organic Today. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Irma-butik verdens mest økologiske supermarked" (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "http://www.business.dk/foedevarer/her-er-den-kinesiske-milliardaer-der-er-faldet-for-danske-irma" (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 18 September 2017.  External link in |title= (help)

External links[edit]