Our history

Dansk Supermarked Group’s history dates back more than 100 years – more precisely to 1906. Over the years, the company has changed dramatically in stature, and what once started as a small draper’s shop in Aarhus has now become an international retail group.



From draper’s shop to department store

In 1906, Ferdinand Salling opened his first draper’s shop in Aarhus. 42 years later, his shop had expanded, and in 1948, the first section of Ferdinand Salling’s department store – Salling Stormagasin – opened.

føtex – the first supermarket in Denmark

In 1960, Herman Salling, the son of Ferdinand Salling, founded føtex - the first supermarket in Denmark. From 1960, Herman Salling’s business expanded and became the foundation of Dansk Supermarked Group.

The founders

With the opening of a draper's shop in 1906, Ferdinand Salling started the journey towards what is today known as Dansk Supermarked Group. After his death in 1953, his son Herman Salling took over the business and started to modernise and expand the Salling department stores. 

Herman had his undivided attention on customers and what they needed in their lives. He was also relentlessly focused on saving costs to keep the prices low for the benefit of the customers.

During his lifelong career in retail, he found inspiration by visiting international retailers, e.g. in USA, the UK and Germany, and he continuously aimed to be at the very forefront of retail in Denmark. The three main chain formats føtex (1960), Bilka (1970) and Netto (1981) were all created to meet new shopping patterns and lifestyle developments. 

In 1999, Herman Salling retired and shortly after his 60th anniversary in the company in 2006, he passed away. His spirit lives on in our culture today.




100% owned by the Salling Foundations in 2017

In 1964, to gain funds for his growth ambitions, Herman Salling invited the Danish shipping company A.P. Moller - Maersk to become a partner in Jysk Supermarked with a 50% share. The company changed its name to Dansk Supermarked the same year. 

In 1982, A.P. Moller - Maersk increased its share of Dansk Supermarked to 68% when acquiring Herman's sister Inger's part of the heritage from their father. Herman's share, which he had placed in the Salling Foundations, was reduced to 32%. 

In January 2014, the Group had created enough cash-flow to enable the Salling Foundations to acquire 49% of A.P. Moller - Maersk’s shares. As a result, the foundations gained majority control of 81% of the retail group.

In November 2017, the process was completed when the remaining 19% was acquired and the full ownership of Dansk Supermarked Group was once again under the Salling name.  


A man of enterprise

Like his father, Herman Salling was a man of enterprise, and in 1960, he established Jysk Supermarked in order to carry out his plans of operating chains of supermarkets and department stores.

Remarkable progress since 1960

Since the first department store opened in 1948, our portfolio has undergone remarkable progress. In 1960, the first føtex supermarket opened in Aarhus. In 1964, the second Salling department store opened in Aalborg, and in 1970, the first Bilka hypermarket opened in Tilst, just outside Aarhus. About a decade later, in 1981, the first Netto discount store opened in Copenhagen.

All chains have since expanded significantly and grown to nationwide prevalence – as well as international expansion with Netto.

New formats for new times

In 1996, Netto opened its first smaller-format discount store under the new brand døgnNetto. døgnNetto offered a selection of everyday essentials at fair prices and were primarily located in Copenhagen. As a result of great success with the 24/7 opening hours in urban Nettos, the brand døgnNetto was in 2016 phased out.

In 2009, føtex opened its first convenience store under the new brand føtex food. Primarily located in Copenhagen and Aarhus, the two largest cities in Denmark, this chain of convenience stores focuses on food and offers an extensive range of specialities.

International expansion

After nine years of successful experience with Netto in Denmark, the discount chain expanded beyond the Danish borders. In 1990, Netto opened its first discount stores in the UK and Germany. Five years later, in 1995, Netto made its debut in Poland as well, and in 2002, Netto also expanded across the Oresund to Sweden.

In 2011, the 193 British Netto stores were sold. In 2014 Netto returned to the UK in a joint venture with the British retailer Sainsbury’s and exited in 2016.


New ways of shopping

Our chains have always evolved with changes in society. In 1960, føtex offered customers a new way of shopping when the first supermarket opened in Guldsmedgade, Aarhus.

Bilka - the first hypermarket in Denmark

In 1970, the opening of the first Bilka hypermarket caused quite a stir. When it opened on the outskirts of Aarhus, a lot of people showed great interest in what the store had to offer.

Netto – the first Danish discounter

In 1981, Netto was the first Danish discounter to offer customers everyday essentials at low prices. Today, the chain enjoys international success in four countries.

A constantly evolving business adventure

The more than 110-year history of Dansk Supermarked Group is one of a successful business adventure. And the story continues.

We strive to be the best partner in people's everyday lives by providing what they need, wherever and whenever they need it, and by ensuring the best shopping experience across all our stores and online channels.  

Together with the Salling Foundations, we use our skills, scale and strength to invest in activities that our customers find valuable, inspiring and helpful in their everyday lives - while creating opportunities for people at all levels in society and drive forward a more sustainable development.