Helsingin Sanomat has reported that several companies are considering pulling their products from the shelves of J. Kärkkäinen, a chain of low-cost department stores headquartered in Ylivieska, due to the alleged neo-Nazi ties of its managing director, Juha Kärkkäinen.
The companies includes well-known consumer product manufacturers such as Berner, Fazer, Joutsen and Tammi.
Helkama, a group of companies best known to consumers for its bicycles, is also likely to discontinue its co-operation with the department store chain, Tero Valtonen, the director of operations at Helkama, confirmed in an interview with Uusi Suomi on Tuesday.
“At this point I can say we’re indeed considering it seriously and will very likely end the co-operation,” he stated. “Helkama as a traditional family-owned business naturally doesn’t tolerate discrimination, intimidation or any kind of extremist thinking and wants absolutely nothing to with such activities.”
Valtonen reminded that the decision to discontinue the co-operation will not be without its financial repercussions.
“It’ll naturally create a hole in our budget for the next term, but another big question is where will we draw the line when it comes to corporate values,” he stated to Uusi Suomi.
Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday published a report detailing the long-running ties of Juha Kärkkäinen to the Nordic Resistance Movement. Kärkkäinen, the newspaper wrote, has collaborated with members of the far-right organisation for several years, was convicted of ethnic agitation in 2014, and gave editorial control of his freely distributed magazine, Magneettimedia, to the organisation in 2015.
Many domestic consumer product manufacturers subsequently announced they are re-considering their co-operation with J. Kärkkäinen.
Fazer, for example, issued a public statement indicating that it will discontinue the distribution of its products to the department stores immediately if the retailer, its main owner or senior executives do anything to violate human dignity.
Roleff Kråkström, the chief executive of Moomin Characters, told Helsingin Sanomat that the situation is problematic as licensed, Moomin-branded products are manufactured and retailed in the department stores by, for example, Fiskars. Maija Taimi, the head of corporate communications and corporate responsibility at Fiskars, stressed to the newspaper that the consumer goods manufacturer renounces any unethical activity and expects its retail partners to do the same.
Finlayson and Otava ended their co-operation with J. Kärkkäinen already in 2015.
Kärkkäinen responded to the outrage by accusing the newspaper of orchestrating a smear campaign. The outrage, he estimated, is simply a result of “differences of opinion” between him and the editors-in-chiefs of Helsingin Sanomat.
“The Finnish media is trying to hurt a company that is employing hundreds of Finns by orchestrating a historically unprecedented, systematic and years-long smear campaign, even though the company is not suspected of violating any laws or treating its stakeholders poorly,” reads a public statement signed by Kärkkäinen.
He has been reticent, however, about his alleged ties to the Nordic Resistance Movement.
J. Kärkkäinen operates department stores in Ii, Oulu, Ylivieska, Jyväskylä and Lahti and is constructing a new department store in Rovaniemi.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi