Change or see your franchise implode…
Far right retail magnate shunned
On Sunday Helsingin Sanomat published a lengthy profile of Juha Kärkkäinen, a retail magnate from Ylivieska in Ostrobothnia with strong links to far-right groups, a penchant for publishing anti-semitic texts in freesheet newspapers and a conviction for agitation against an ethnic group. The article detailed how Kärkkäinen became radicalised during a trip to the United States in 2007, and outlined his efforts to keep publishing racist and anti-semitic material while trying not to damage his business.
In order to do that, Kärkkäinen handed some of his media operations to an association linked to the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, which is the target of legal proceedings aimed at proscribing the violent far-right group this month.
The story also noted that many firms, including HS owner Sanoma, are happy to take Kärkkäinen’s money and provide him with stock. The Kärkkäinen outlets, which sell cheap household goods in a no-frills department store setting, stock most big brands. The only company that has ceased co-operation with the budget barn outlet is Finlayson, which did so back in 2015.
That led to social media pressure and eventually responses from Finnish firms worried about their reputations. Confectionary firm Fazer republished a letter they sent to Kärkkäinen demanding explanations and threatening to suspend co-operation if there were any more outbreaks of neo-nazism from the company or its leadership. Fazer said it was evaluating its links with Kärkkäinen.
The Muumin franchise said it operates via franchising agreements and is powerless to stop Kärkkäinen profiting from Tove Jansson’s hippo-like family of characters. Other firms said they were evaluating their links with the retailer, but no single firm announced they were suspending co.operation.