As an importing nation, Sweden must be flexible regarding logistics, including pallet formats. The country’s largest retailer – ICA – is enlisting SmartRetur to manage the complexities of pallet reverse logistics across its network.
After a procurement process, SmartRetur has signed a new agreement with Sweden’s largest grocery chain ICA and will handle all their return pallets. SmartRetur is the Nordic region’s largest return logistics player with tailor-made solutions for return pallets throughout the country.
Requires return logistics of the highest quality
“That ICA chooses us is a huge declaration of confidence,” stated Andreas Lagerbäck, regional manager for SmartRetur. “They had some extremely specific and tough requirements for volume, delivery qualities, geographical coverage, and flexibility – something we had not managed just three or four years ago.
“But today, SmartRetur offers a nationwide and market-leading solution for total handling of return pallets adapted to their distribution throughout Sweden. Because with a significant number of pallets per year, distributed in seven different locations with varying sizes and geographical locations, this contract is a customer-adapted solution at a high level,” said Lagerbäck.
A winning concept for SmartRetur
CEO Magnus Krook at SmartRetur Sweden says that he likes to brag a little about his team on a day like this.
“Andreas and the gang have been fighting for several years to build up SmartRetur to become Sweden’s leading return logistics partner and thereby attract customers of ICA’s caliber,” said CEO Magnus Krook of SmartRetur.
“Through strategic geographical acquisitions, we have also supplemented to think short distances and efficient reuse of precious resources where it matters most. If anything, SmartRetur has tried to stand for the professionalization of return logistics through large-scale operations, reuse, digitization, and the right staffing in the right place. Having full control over all returnable pallets in an unpredictable world, where both the supply of raw materials and the value chains prove vulnerable, is more important than ever, ” said Krook.
All types of pallets are important
The agreement with ICA, which is for three years, enters into force on 1 September and means that SmartRetur takes care of all types of surplus pallets for ICA, regardless of origin, type and quality. As an importing country, Sweden is dependent on showing great flexibility in its logistics, both in terms of imports and within the country. Taking care of wood products and the wooden pallet is therefore not only important for large customers such as ICA, but also for society at large, Krook points out.
“You may get a little tired of the concept of “sustainability” when it is difficult to get things to go together in everyday life, but the truth is that all this is connected. The better we do everyday logistics, the better it is for the environment. Therefore, we are doubly proud of the opportunity we have had with ICA,” concluded Krook.
SmartRetur aquires Renova
In continuing to build its network, SmartRetur recently acquired one of Sweden’s most well-known and reputable pallet handling companies, Renova.
“…to make this work in the years to come, with the development that is taking place in digital banking solutions, declining resource assets and innovation of new types of load carriers, we will only be able to be a leader if we are part of something bigger.”
CEO Magnus Krook of SmartRetur Sweden remarked that Renova’s expertise and geographical position is a perfect fit and means an upgrade of SmartRetur’s national offering. “We are now becoming even more professional and have an increased presence in the strategically important Mälardalen region,” he said.
“Great capacity, flexibility and short distances are important for success and with Jonas and his gang we will be better together in a larger team. We can now offer a complete solution in a region where 50% of Swedish GDP is created, something that increases efficiency and reduces the environmental footprint,” he continued.
Since 1982, Renova has built up considerable expertise in return logistics with its base just west of Stockholm. The company took early responsibility for the entire value chain and stores, produces and sub-produces significant amounts of wooden pallets in various formats. The reuse of wood for both standard pallets and disposable pallets has become a formula for success during times when the supply of wood has gradually deteriorated.
Short distances and integration are the future
Renova is not only a modern return logistics company that has been a leader in pallet logistics and production, they are also a traditional family company that is now run by the third generation. For CEO Jonas Helgesson, the decision to sell was emotional, while he and the children understood that increased investment was needed to be able to participate and compete in the future.
“We have always done well and grown to be personally invested in our customers and to find the best solution,” he said.
“But to make this work in the years to come, with the development that is taking place in digital banking solutions, declining resource assets and innovation of new types of load carriers, we will only be able to be a leader if we are part of something bigger,” he continued. “And then we agreed that it was only one player that was relevant, one that leads both in depth and breadth with the same quality and that is SmartRetur.”
“The Helgesson family has always strived to develop the market’s best product and therefore we spoke the same language from the beginning,” offered Sören Eriksen, CEO of SmartRetur. “Our idea is a friction-free Nordic region where you as a customer get help where you are, and with Renova in our team, we are closer to such a solution in the Nordic region’s most important market.
“With increased capacity, more talented people and more focus on innovation, SmartRetur can continue to maintain high quality with the confidence that we will also tackle tomorrow’s challenging logistics world,” Eriksen concluded.
With its operations in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, SmartRetur is the Nordic region’s leading player in return logistics with a turnover of almost EUR 75 million. The company was founded in 2001 and is today owned by the Norwegian PE fund Norvestor.