AMKA GROUP : Looking to the long-term

What started off in 1978 as a hobby for Anna-Marie and Karsten Søndergaard, who sold wines to friends and family from their garage in a small village in Denmark, has evolved into a multi-million-bottle business spanning 9 North European countries. Their son and current AMKA CEO Frank Søndergaard outlines the company’s ethos and growth prospects across the region.

Perhaps what characterises AMKA group most is its extreme specialisation. Each one of its 35 million bottles in annual sales – of wines with some beers and spirits – accesses the market through a dedicated company. “In Denmark, for instance, we have one company that specialises in wine sales to Horeca, another in spirits, then wines to supermarkets and another to online outlets”, explains Søndergaard from the company’s base in Denmark, where it owns six companies and sells around half its total volumes. Its broad-ranging distribution reach – from off-premise to Horeca, travel retail, online and its own bricks-and-mortar outlets – proved to be a precious asset during the Covid crisis. “What we thought was going to be a horrendous year, actually turned out to be not bad at all with declines offset by increases in other channels”. Drawing on a producer portfolio of some 300 suppliers also allows the company to tap into growth markets, with Sweden often leading the way. From organic/sustainable to cans/PET bottles and bag-in-boxes, what starts in Sweden often filters down rapidly to Norway and Finland, then Denmark. In response to this, AMKA has recently established AMKA Nordic, addressing the needs of the monopolies and Horeca channel with a clear strategy. One strong consumer trend AMKA is witnessing region-wide is the tendency for lighter drinks. “Easy-drinking, lighter wine styles are definitely on-trend because they match the lighter food we’re eating”, stresses Søndergaard, who has also noticed the importance of references – reviews and endorsements – particularly in online channels which are rapidly growing across Scandinavia. Whatever the trend, Søndergaard feels that as a 100% family-owned business, AMKA is well-equipped to think long-term: “Often today, it’s not so much the buying and selling that matters as making long-term projects with our partners”.