1900–1919 Wholesale started from a bakery

Wihuri Oy Aarnio's wholesale trade started in 1901 in the city of Kaarina, when Hjalmar Aarnio delivered pastries baked by his wife Edla to shopkeepers for them to sell. Already the following year, Hjalmar set up a shop to go with the bakery. When purchasing the goods, he noticed that he could get a good bargain if he bought large batches at a time. So he began buying more goods than he actually needed and started selling them to the shopkeepers, the same ones that he was also delivering the bakery products to. Hjalmar made regular shopping trips to Russia and bought flour, porcelain items and textiles there.

Hjalmar and Edla Aarnio registered their company as T:mi Hjalmar Aarnio in 1915. They also hired their first traveling salesman the same year.

1920–1939 From a private entrepreneur to a limited company

Hjalmar changed the company into a limited company in 1922, and the new name was Hjalmar Aarnio Oy. Two years later, he shortened the name to Hj. Aarnio Oy, and the company focused on supplying bakers with goods. The company, the wholesale warehouse and the office – and also home – all moved to the same property, located at Humalistonkatu 9, in Turku.

The recession that followed World War I forced the wholesale trade to move from cash sales to credit sales. The credit problems that followed and, on the other hand, the discounts granted by the industry on large batches served as an impetus for wholesalers to start cooperating with each other. Tukku-Konttori was founded as a central business for different small wholesale companies in 1924. Hjalmar Aarnio was a member of the Supervisory Boards of Tukku-Konttori's successors, Tukkukunta rl and Tukkukauppojen Oy, from 1926 to 1943, until his death.

Advertising started to become more common in the 1920s, but Aarnio's business did not do any advertising: he believed that the quality of the service and the prices would speak for themselves. He did give in to advertising that much that he had the name of the company painted on the sides of the trucks that had replaced horses as a means of transport.

Hjalmar continued the business after Edla's death in 1931 and founded a coffee roastery in 1932.

Hjalmar met his future wife Rakel Hellberg in merchant meetings.

1940–1959 The business grows

The name Hj. Aarnio was changed to Aarnio Oy and the retail trade was discontinued in 1942. Hjalmar Aarnio died in 1943. The same year, Tukkukunta and three other companies merged their operations into Tukkukauppojen Oy (Tuko).

Aarnio's business grew after the wars with the coffee roastery, dressmaker's shops and new warehouses, until the general strike and the recession took their toll on trade. The office was moved to Tampere and the sales began to boom again as sales representatives started paying regular visits to the customers. A small exhibition space was set up within the office.

Aarnio was one of the founding members of the marketing, training and counseling group ASO/A&O, which operated inside the Tuko group. Other marketing groups inside the Tuko group were Spar and TR (Heinon Tukku/Riisla).

1960–1979 Aarnio becomes the largest Cash-and-Carry chain

The first Aarnio Cash-and-Carry was established in Turku in 1962. Finnish wholesalers had visited Cash-and-Carries in the USA, but the idea for Aarnio’s business came from Sweden. Merchants could use the Cash-and-Carries to refill their product selection fast and easy, and also receive a small additional discount when they collect the products themselves. Aarnio expanded operations to the Helsinki market by acquiring the Hansa wholesale company. At the end of the decade, Aarnio was Finland's largest Cash-and-Carry chain with its 11 outlets.

After becoming a widow, Rakel Wihuri (formerly Aarnio) married Maritime Counselor Antti Wihuri, who had started his career as a shipowner. She served as an important link in connecting the life's works of two pioneers. In 1961, the businesses of Aarnio and Wihuri were merged into Wihuri Yhtymä.

In 1970, Wihuri Yhtymä acquired the share capital of a competing company, Maamiesten Kauppa Oy, which was as big as Wihuri in terms of revenue, and it was merged with Wihuri in 1976. A year earlier, the name Wihuri Yhtymä was changed to Wihuri Oy.

Tuko group's traders introduced the T marketing logo and gave up their other logos. The aim of the T logo was to enhance marketing and make the group more well-known. Aarnio used the T logo in its marketing from 1973 to 1993.

Aarnio's distribution warehouse was built in Tampere in 1976.

1980–1999 Metro Cash-and-Carries move over to Aarnio

Antti Aarnio-Wihuri has been Chairman of the Wihuri Oy Board of Directors since 1988. He has had a long career in the family business, and continues the life's works of his father Hjalmar Aarnio, his mother Rakel Wihuri, and Antti Wihuri.

Aarnio returned to the retail trade in 1988, when it acquired the Ruokamarkkinat chain. The chain consisted of the Ruokavarasto stores, whose business idea was to sell goods at a lower price than the competitors. They succeeded, thanks to their narrow product selection, large purchase batches, and tendering suppliers. Ruokavarasto became a nationwide chain in the 1990s, and it was merged with the RuokaSkotti and Valtti-Rabatti chains and the Suni Oy daily goods business.

Tuko started developing its own brand of wholesale trade in earnest in the 1990s, and the chain was named Metro. The wholesale chain combined Cash-and-Carries, delivery services, fresh produce departments and terminal operations into one business. Aarnio's first Metro Cash-and-Carry was opened in Tampere in 1991. A few years later, the Aarnio Cash-and-Carries were named EuroMetro, to distinguish them from other Metros.

The new T trade group, Tuko Group, was established in 1993, and TukoSpar Oy was in charge of supplying their daily goods. A group of former T store keepers founded the Tarmo chain. They chose Aarnio as their supplier, and the cooperation continues still to this day.

The alcohol wholesale monopoly was dissolved when Finland joined the European Union in 1995. Medium-strength beer, wines and spirits found their way into the Metro Cash-and-Carries.

With Tuko's new ownership arrangements, the nationwide Metro wholesale business was transferred to Aarnio on 1st May 1997. This also made Wihuri the largest shareholder in the purchasing and logistics company TukoSpar. The kiosk chain “10” also moved over to Aarnio.

Wihuri acquired the Sesto business operations from Stockmann in 1999. At the same time, Wihuri also separated its retail and wholesale businesses; Ruokamarkkinat operated the Ruokavarasto, Sesto and EtuJätti retail stores, and Aarnio operated the Metro wholesale business.

2000– Professional service near you

Aarnio operated the kiosk chain “10” in 2000–2008. The small kiosk stores provided good service with their broad and high-quality product selection and their long opening hours.

TukoSpar was renamed Tuko Logistics Oy in 2000.

Wihuri and Cooperative Tradeka merged their daily goods businesses in 2005. The company was named Tradeka Oy (Suomen Lähikauppa Oy since 2008), and Wihuri became its third-largest shareholder. Tradeka sold its share in the purchasing and logistics company Inex Partners and moved over to Tuko Logistics. Tuko Logistics became a cooperative in 2011, and Wihuri owns 41 per cent of it.

Wihuri gave up its Suomen Lähikauppa shares in 2012 and focuses on the daily goods wholesale business. Today, Wihuri's Metro wholesale is one of the leading actors in its field in Finland. We serve 30 000 customers in the HoReCa, public administration, retail trade and service station sectors every day through our nationwide Metro Cash & Carries, distribution network and emetro.fi webstore.