Annual review 2020


Partnering up for positive change

In addition to daily operations of our companies, we also participate in a number of partnerships contributing to our and the surrounding world’s sustainable development:


The global village ­(Järvaveckan)

Political Week Järvaveckan (Järva Week) is an initiative started in 2016 by Ahmed Abdirahman, founder of the non-profit association The Global Village. Järva Week was created based on a vision to reduce the distance between politics and  citizens, and to counteract exclusion in vulnerable areas. Axel Johnson joined Järvaveckan and The Global Village in 2018 as the main partner, extending that partnership to 2023. In 2019, Järvaveckan attracted 53,000 visitors, compared with 30,000 the previous year. In 2020, the week was canceled due to the pandemic, and now the aim is for a digital version in 2021 and a return to physical events thereafter. In addition to Järva Week, The Global Village has become a central point in Swedish public debate and the dissemination of knowledge about issues related to integration and development in Sweden’s areas of exclusion.

Forum for living history/Natur & Kultur

In fall 2020, Axel Johnson carried out a project for the second time together with the Forum for Living History and book publisher Natur & Kultur, where we donated 50,000 copies of Hédi Fried’s books Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust and The Story of Bodri to Swedish ninth graders and primary schools, respectively. In addition, all class teachers received a guide to support the work with the books. 

Future work Forum

The Future Work Forum (FfO) was established in 2018 with the aim to help strengthen Sweden to meet the changes that are taking place in digitalization, automation and new business models. Axel Johnson is one of the companies that via FfO contributes to dialogue and concrete proposals for a successful structural transformation.

Digital day

In 2019, Axel Johnson took part, partly via the Future Work Forum (at left), in the launch of a national day for sharing knowledge and discussing the possibilities, challenges and consequences of digitalization, in order to shape the best possible digital society. In 2020, the digital national day grew to 285 activities in 110 locations around Sweden. Some 215 players from business, the public sector, trade unions and academia participated. Axel Johnson Board Chair Caroline Berg, who sits on the board of the Future Work Forum, participated. Dustin, Kicks, and Axel Johnson International organized or participated in seminars.

Stockholm School of Economics

Since 2010, Axel Johnson has been a partner company at the Stockholm School of Economics and its Center for Retailing (CFR). At CFR, education and research are conducted in close collaboration with Swedish retail trade. The center is responsible for, among other things, the School of Business, Economics and Law’s three-year bachelor’s program in Retail Management, in which Axel Johnson participates


Axfoundation – our closest partnership

Antonia Ax:son Johnson founded Axfoundation in 1993 as an independent, non-profit organization working concretely and practically with sustainability issues – with innovation and a belief in entrepreneurship as a force for change as the starting point. The activities include close collaborations with companies, researchers and civil society and span three program areas:

  • Food of the Future
  • Circular Economy
  • Sustainable production and consumption

Axfoundation is completely independent of Axel Johnson, but collaborates with us and our companies in a number of individual projects. Following are three examples from 2020.

Resursfisk: Sweden has large resources of nutritious seafood, but only a few species are widely eaten. Delicate but difficult-to-clean fish are often thrown back into the water. By taking advantage of, for example, bream, waste and import dependence are reduced. Axfoundation, along with researchers, chefs, dieticians, professional fishermen and the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, has created an infrastructure to take advantage of underutilized fish species and produced a bream mince using green-listed fish from Lakes Vänern and Mälaren. Axfood company Urban Deli has been involved in recipe development and sample preparation, serving the product since it came on the market in 2020.

Plastics Progress Tool: Together with the Axel Johnson Group’s companies, Axfoundation has begun to develop a method and  digital tool for monitoring plastics use in Swedish companies. Kicks and Åhléns were involved in the development from the start and also first to test the tool. When the tool is ready and if the evaluation shows positive results, the goal is to reach out with the solution widely among companies in Sweden, thereby contributing to a more uniform way of measuring plastic use. 

Öppnadörren: In fall 2020, Axfoundation’s integration initiative ÖppnaDörren was spun off and became part of Axel Johnson’s Axelerate. What once started as a small-scale initiative to accelerate the establishment of foreign-born people in the Swedish labor market had then grown into an initiative where 60,000 new and established Swedes met through ÖppnaDörren’s partner organizations Yrkesdörren, Svenska med baby and Nya Kompisbyrån since its start in 2015.