In 1883, Sören Mikael Bostrup Berner leaves Stavanger, Norway, to come to Helsinki, Finland; he founds an office in Eteläranta 6, Helsinki.
Business starts with importing herring and expands to wholesale. Meanwhile, the Finnish industry and foreign trade develop quickly thanks to reformed freedoms in industry and trade.
The agency business begins to evolve, and it will become the company’s most enduring and significant business area.
Export trade becomes ever more important, and we export paper and paperboard to African countries, cheese to Germany, veneer to London and Hamburg. The plant protection and automotive departments are established.
Business expands to include importing pharmaceuticals and veterinary pharmaceuticals. The general partnership becomes a limited liability company. After World War II, the Finnish economy is in crisis. The war reparations take up most of the export capacity, but on the other hand they do accelerate the pace of industrialization. Meanwhile, Berner develops and expands its business.
The company begins to pay dividends and to take better care of its employees. The adopted flexible working time, occupational healthcare services and dental care, among others, are progressive policies.
1950s is a time of new growth. The war reparations are completed by September 1952, and Helsinki is the scene of the Olympic Games the summer before. Finns are thrilled by Armi Kuusela’s Miss Universe title. Consumption customs change and people start wanting to buy cars. Berner is ready to meet these new trends.
In 1952, the year of the Olympic Games, a factory is established in Herttoniemi, Helsinki, cosmetics import begins and the XZ hair conditioning oil is developed. The car department starts its business in 1954 and the technochemical department in 1955. Harry Berner is appointed CEO in 1958.
Korrek car care products are launched as a result of the company’s product development. We expand our business to the trade of hospital equipment and materials.
Sport, forklift trucks and food departments are established. We begin selling Eva sewing machines and they are welcomed in Finnish homes as the oil crisis and depression plague the country.
Berner celebrates its first centennial in 1983. We expand our business to the cleaning industry. We acquire Revlon’s businesses in Sweden and Norway. In 1987 we give up importing pharmaceuticals.
1988 The fourth generation takes over the company, when George Berner becomes the CEO and Peter Berner the chairman of the board. The cousins continue where the brothers left off. Finland is still experiencing a tremendous economic growth, but the accelerating dive of the Soviet economy and the drop in trade with the Soviet Union prove to be lethal.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the boom is over. Many factors contribute to creating an unprecedented economic depression. The economic news are dominated by bankruptcies, massive unemployment and the banking crisis. Berner pulls through the downturn in economy thanks to its versatility. Its product selection widens in the 1990s especially through new acquisitions. We purchase the technochemical business of Primalco Ltd.This deal introduces to our selection wellknown brands, such as Lasol, Masinol and Dilutus.
We acquire Sareko Agro’s plant protection business from Cultor Group, and become the largest plant protection substance importer and marketer in Finland. We give up veterinary pharmaceuticals.
We acquire Bergenheim Company Ltd.from Instrumentarium Ltd. Our selections expands to include Infa baby products, which will go under the new name Ainu. The subsidiary Berner Eesti Oü is established in Estonia; it will later operate also in Lithuania and Latvia.
The global economy drops due to the terrorist attack in the United States, and in the autumn, recession hits Finland. Despite external problems, our year-to-year turnover improves and exceeds one billion Finnish marks for the first time. We purchase the Heinävesi technochemical plant from Norwegian Reidar Jakobsen, and transfer there the manufacturing of water-based hygiene products from our plant in Herttoniemi. We purchase the LV brand from Unilever.
We acquire Gullviks plant protection wholesale in Sweden. Later, Gullviks merges with Bröderna Berner Handels AB.
We celebrate our 120th business year and the Family Business of the Year Award is given to us in recognition of our meaningful and exemplary work. We purchase the Herbina brand from Noiro, which enhances our position in the trade of daily consumables.
We acquire Nokian Footwear and begin to build an international top brand. 2006 We are given the Best Family Business in Finland Award by Suomen Kuvalehti.
The most significant acquisition is the purchase of Altia’s vinegar production in Rajamäki. We are given the Magazine Advertizer of the Year Award.
All logistics operations are centralized in the new logistics center of 24,000 m2 in Viinikkala, Vantaa. We purchase the consumer business of Yara Suomi Oy, and replace the name GrowHow by GreenCare. Our selection now includes garden products and products for golf courts and greenspace. We also purchase the laboratory materials manufacturing of Konstrumed Oy.
Despite the debt crisis of the euro zone, we succeed well in all business areas in Finland, the Baltic countries and especially well in Sweden. Our turnover increases by 8 percent and profitability remains good. We acquire Normomedical Oy thus expanding our selection by Omron blood pressure meters, thermometers, pedometers and body composition monitors.
The problems in the global economy continue. However, our company profit is excellent. Our turnover increases by 12.2 percent and profitability remains good. We sell our car and sewing machine businesses. We establish the consumables department when daily consumables, cosmetics and automotive departments are combined. We begin to build the new production plant in Heinävesi.
We celebrate our 130 years of business, and Antti Korpiniemi is appointed CEO of the company. Production plants H2 and H3 are completed in Heinävesi. The situation in global economy is challenging, and the demand for consumables is poor. The positive development in business in Sweden and the Baltic countries strengthens the company’s overall profit. Pro department is established, when the departments health and research and cleanliness and hygiene merge. Machinery department starts working when the machinery equipment and forklift trucks are under the same sales department. SITRA and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health award us the prize for Innovative Practices in Employment and Social Policy.
In the beginning of the year, we acquire the Lithuanian UAB Kruzas Nordic Cosmetics Distribution. This deal makes Berner one of the leading cosmetics importers and distributors in the Baltic countries. Manufacturing in Rajamäki ends, and Minister of Labor Lauri Ihalainen inaugurates the new production plants in Heinävesi.
Berner digitalizes and renews it’s operations. Farmer’s Berner business expands to direct sales and e-commerce. The year has been active in business acquisitions. We acquired the farming business operations of HL-Vihannes Oy and Neuvox Oy. Neuvox specialises in chemicals exporting and importing with Russia. We also expanded our brand portfolio in the Baltic countries. Berner and Estonia’s leading cosmetics company Renalko Kaubandus Ltd. signed a contract, which transfers Renalko’s importing and distribution business to Berner in Estonia.