December 8, 2017 / 8:33 AM / 2 years ago

Sweden's Clas Ohlson buys stake in online grocery firm MatHem

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish retailer Clas Ohlson (CLASb.ST) will buy a 10 percent stake in one of the country’s largest online grocery stores, MatHem, seeking to adapt to changing consumer behavior and a weak sales development in its physical stores.

The move comes after the company said earlier this week it would halt its normal store expansion in the Nordics and reported weaker than expected quarterly earnings, news that saw its shares lose a fifth of their value.

“For Clas Ohlson, the collaboration provides opportunities to reach new customers via MatHem’s digital platform and offer better service to existing customers through convenient and fast deliveries to the front door,” the company said in a statement.

Under new CEO Lotta Lyra since August, the DIY retailer, whose stores also sell products ranging from home electronics to cleaning supplies, has been working on a strategic review which it is due to present and launch in full during the spring.

Lyra said this week this could include partnerships to find new ways to sell Clas Ohlson’s products. ​

Clas Ohlson’s investment of 221 million crowns ($26.0 million) will make the company MatHem’s fourth largest owner. MatHem, whose owners also include Verdane Capital and H&M (HMb.ST) CEO Karl-Johan Persson, reported sales of 963 million crowns in 2016.

Lyra said many of Clas Ohlson’s top sellers were consumables for the home. “Customers’ purchasing patterns for this type of products are largely similar to the pattern for the purchase of food,” she said in a statement.

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; editing by Niklas Pollard

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