Danish supermarket to help small, shuttered businesses survive lockdown

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COPENHAGEN, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Danish supermarket cooperative Kvickly has pledged to set aside some of its extra proceeds made while smaller retailers were shut down by coronavirus restrictions and use it for marketing to help them reopen successfully.

Supermarkets, but not smaller retailers, in the Nordic country have been allowed to stay open during a lockdown introduced in December to curb the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain.

Kvickly said it would donate its proceeds from sales of non-food items to shuttered shops for use in marketing campaigns as they reopen for business. That would amount to at least 7-10 million Danish crowns ($1.14-$1.63 million) – but more if the current coronavirus lockdown is extended beyond March 1.

“Local businesses are very much going to need it,” Christina Brodbaek, co-owner of a closed men’s clothing store just 100 metres (330 feet) away from the nearest Kvickly in the provincial city of Elsinore, told Reuters.

Kvickly is part of the COOP supermarket chain, which is co-owned by its 1.8 million members – the principle of cooperatives dating back more than 150 years in Denmark and has played a key role in building the Danish welfare state.

“We believe it’s right, being a part of Danish society, that we help (the shops) that struggle and give them a good start when they open up again,” Torben Andersen, Kvickly’s Chief Executive, told Reuters.

There has been some criticism in Denmark about supermarkets continuing to sell electronics and clothing in increasingly busy stores while smaller shops selling the same items are closed.

Each of Kvickly’s 67 stores will be allocated at least 100,000 crowns to spend on marketing on behalf of local shops.

“We will make sure that everybody in Elsinore knows we’re open for business (when we open up again),” said Sascha Hirtsgaard, owner of a closed local hair salon.

Denmark has recorded a total of 205,597 COVID-19 infections and 2,316 deaths from the respiratory disease.

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