Going East: How 1 + 1 becomes 3

The acquisition of Koivunen marked a significant milestone for MEKO, bolstering its presence in Finland and the Baltics. But is it possible to integrate a Finnish company being privately owned since 1927 with a listed Swedish group? To succeed, one thing is key, according to Petra Bendelin, Chief Operating Officer at MEKO.

Going East: How 1 + 1 becomes 3

It was mid 2022 when it was announced that MEKO had acquired Koivunen, the leading provider of automotive spare parts and related services in Finland and Estonia. For MEKO, it meant gaining an even stronger foothold in the area and further expanding the offer in Finland and the Baltics.

The acquisition should not have surprised anyone. Koivunen, a well-established company in Finland, is known for its reliability, wide assortment and long relationships with customers and suppliers.

For Koivunen, it meant starting a new journey.

“Transitioning from a family-owned enterprise to becoming part of MEKO meant some changes for a company operating in Finland since 1927,” says Petra Bendelin and adds:

“Collaboration is key. We actively share best practices, innovative concepts, and the group's collective expertise through various platforms. Besides local operations, we have centralized activities for different segments, including tyres and heavy vehicles. This synergy helps us cultivate competencies and foster growth more effectively than if we were working in isolation.”

“We seek to maintain and increase this level of flexibility and creativity” 

Looking towards the future, Petra sees thrilling opportunities to continue building on MEKO’s long-lasting legacy in these markets.

“One overall matter are evolving customer needs and preferences. We need to be proactive in many areas, from enhancing digital booking systems and omnichannel services to increasing our focus on sustainability,” she says and adds:

“In Finland, MEKO has shown remarkable agility in all aspects. This adaptability has fostered strong customer service and loyalty. We seek to maintain and increase this level of flexibility and creativity.”

In the short term, Koivunen seeks to draw on the joint expertise to further strengthen its organization and supply chains. Aligning with MEKO's broader strategy, Petra highlights Koivunen's commitment to developing concepts for both heavy and light vehicles and expanding its national brands, with a keen focus on digitalization.

Echoing similar initiatives in Norway, MEKO recently announced a strategic move in Finland to strengthen its market position further. The renovation of a central storage facility with automated technology is expected to enhance service levels and achieve significant cost savings. The facility is slated for full operation within the first half of 2025.

Bringing warehouse efficiency by gradually introducing partial automation

This investment aligns with MEKO’s broader coordination strategy and aims to streamline order and storage management for increased efficiency.

"We aim to enhance warehouse efficiency and gradually introduce partial automation," Petra explains, looking forward to a promising future for the business.

Maintaining what made Koivunen successful while integrating further into MEKO seems to be the strategic direction.

"Our extensive selection is a major competitive advantage, and improving our system architecture is a key area for development. We aim to uphold values such as reliability, predictability, and stability, which have been the cornerstone of our customer relationships and Koivunen's reputation as an employer. I am genuinely excited about our future," Petra concludes.

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