Finland back on track

FINLAND After Vattenfall reduced its presence in Finland a few years ago, the Finnish team decided to prove their worth. They have seen great sales figures this year, and the team is gearing up to win even more electricity customers in the future.

Finland is today one of ­Vattenfall’s most dynamic and exciting markets. The sales targets for the year 2014 were already reached by October, and the company is investing in a new customer system to make the business even more efficient.

But as little as three years ago, many people feared that Vattenfall would have to abandon its Finnish operations. The company needed to free up cash and sold the majority of its business at short notice: the electricity grid, combined heat and power plants and even customer services. Only electricity sales and a few small-scale hydro power plants remained.

“In 2011, when we were told that Finland wasn’t one of Vattenfall’s core markets any more and that most of the business was to be sold, many people were shocked. There was also concern that the remaining electricity customers would leave when the networks were sold,” says Peter Strandberg, who is responsible for new customer sales in Finland.

Vattenfall’s Finnish workforce suddenly shrank from 450 to about 50. But rather than giving up, they decided to show people what Finnish perseverance can do. “We saw it as a challenge. With fighting spirit and a positive attitude, we improved our results year after year,” Strandberg says.

Today, Vattenfall is the third-largest energy company in Finland behind Fortum and Helsingfors Energi. And 2014 has been a good year. The target of 60,000 new retail customers was achieved by mid-October, and the figure now looks like it will hit almost 70,000 by the end of December. In all, the Finnish sales teams manage some 365,000 customers, almost 30,000 of them business customers.

The objective is to continue to grow in Finland, primarily through telemarketing. “We currently have around 12 per cent of the market. We’re in a good position and are now investing in Finland as a growth market, getting ready to take on new customers,” says Vattenfall’s Head of Sales Nordic, Anna Borg.

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