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KF was founded in 1899 by 41 local consumer co-operatives in order to support them with information and education of store managers and board members. Soon KF also became responsible for common procurement of goods. In the 1930s KF expanded rapidly during the management of Albin Johansson, setting up various industries in order to support the co-operative grocery stores. 1950-1970 KF was at the forefront of the Swedish retail trade by developing new and bigger store formats and it was one of the major business groups in Scandinavia. In the beginning of the 1990s, as a response to a financial crisis, KF decided to sell out all its industries and focus on retail trade only. Around year 2000 KF formed the retail chain Coop Norden along with its Nordic co-operative counterparts, Danish FDB and Norwegian Coop NKL. In 2002, KF bought a 50% share in BOL Sweden from Bertelsmann. Due to poor financial results in Coop Norden the owners decided to renationalize the operation of the stores in 2007.
As of 2012, KF is a federation of 39 consumer co-operatives with more than 3.2 million members and a retail group with a net worth (ex. VAT) of SEK 37.3 billion. The grocery retail group, Coop Butiker & Stormarknader, stands for around 85 per cent of the sale with store brands like Coop Konsum, Coop Nära, Coop Extra and Coop Forum. KF accounts for approximately 55 percent of consumer cooperative retail sales in Sweden. The other part is run by local or regional retail cooperatives, even though procurement, logistics and store brands are integrated. Together, KF and the consumer co-operatives have a market share of 21.5 per cent of the Swedish grocery retail trade (2010).
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