Largest Swedish Retail Companies and Industry Overview

Ikea Store

Philippe Lissac / Getty Images

The reason why the largest retail companies headquartered in Sweden are also some of the largest retailing companies in the world is partly due to the fact that Sweden has a strong economy and a favorable environment for business. The other big reason is that Swedish retailing companies like IKEA and H&M have found fanatically loyal customer bases in global markets, and are competing well with the largest retail chains in the U.S. and Europe. 

IKEA and H&M are two Sweden-based retail chains that are ranked relatively high on the annual Global Powers of Retailing Report, which is published annually by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. According to this report, based on annual revenue, both IKEA and H&M have risen in the rankings when compared with retail chains all over the world. 

When comparing the 2010 revenue ranking with the 2016 revenue ranking, IKEA gained ground compared to all other retail chains of all types in the world. In 2010 IKEA was ranked the 30th largest (highest revenue) retail chain in the world. In 2016 IKEA was ranked #26. 

H&M, however, has fared even better in the past six years. In 2010, H&M's annual revenue was the 60th largest in the world. In the 2016 report, H&M was ranked #47, which is a reflection of its successful global expansion in the past six years. 

Not only are Sweden's individual retail chains doing well, Swedish businesses, in general, are thriving. So well, in fact, that, Sweden was ranked as the 5th best country in the world for business, according to Forbes Magazine's most recent "Best Countries for Business" ranking list. 

What follows below is a list of the retail companies based in Sweden that are included on the 2010 and 2016 Global Powers of Retailing ranking lists. The global ranking numbers are based on annual revenue and compared to all of the largest retail organizations worldwide. It is worth noting that the 2016 Global Powers of Retailing Report is created from FY 2014 revenue figures and the 2010 Global Powers Report is created using the figures from FY 2008, which was a year of global recession.

Retail Companies Based in Sweden Ranked Among the 250 Largest Retailers In the World

  • IKEA
  • 2016 Global Ranking - #26
    2010 Global Ranking - #30   

    Household Specialty
  • H&M
  • 2016 Global Ranking - #47
    2010 Global Ranking - #60   
    Apparel/Footwear Specialty
  • ICA Gruppen AB
    2016 Global Ranking - #77
    2010 Global Ranking - #61  
  • Axfood AB
    2016 Global Ranking - #150
    2010 Global Ranking - #227
  • Coop Sverige AB
    2016 Global Ranking - #185
  • KF Gruppen
    2016 Global Ranking - N/A
  • 2010 Global Ranking - #154
  • Apoteket AB
    2016 Global Ranking - N/A
    2010 Global Ranking - #164
  • Systembolaget
    2016 Global Ranking - N/A
    2010 Global Ranking - #245
    Specialty Stores

Why Retail Companies Do Well in Sweden, a 'Best Country for Business'

What Forbes means by the "best" countries for business is really the "most business-friendly" countries. That is, which country makes it easiest for companies to operate their business based on these 10 aspects of doing business:

  • Property rights
  • Innovation - Sweden Ranks #7 in the World
    • Quality of scientific research institutions, availability of scientists and engineers, percentage patent applications per millions, university-industry collaboration in R&D,  as ranked by the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report
  • Taxes - Sweden Ranks #37 in the World
    • Country taxation laws and the tax burden imposed on businesses, as reported by the World Bank's Doing Business Report
  • Technology - Sweden Ranks #4 in the World
    • Technological adoption and Information and Communications Technology Use, as ranked by the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report
  • Corruption
  • Freedom (trade and monetary)
    • Sweden ranks #14 in Europe and #16 in the World - Government corruption and spending, protection of property rights, regulatory transparency and efficiency, labor freedom, market openness, as ranked by the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom
  • Freedom (personal)
    • Sweden was rated as "Completely Free" - Political rights and civil liberties, as evaluated by Freedom House's Freedom in the World Report
  • Red Tape
    • The complexity and cost of complying with governmental regulations pertaining to operating a business, as reported by the World' Bank's Doing Business Report. This includes the cost of starting a business, transferring property, paying business taxes, exporting goods, importing goods and using courts to resolve a commercial dispute.
  • Investor Protection - Sweden Ranks #14 in the World 
    • How well are minority shareholders protected from the misuse of corporate assets, and how strong are rules regarding corporate governance and transparency, as reported by the World Bank's Doing Business Report
  • Stock Market Performance