Last Sunday marked 25 years since merchant A. Kutwonen started his now extensive wholesale and retail business in St. Petersburg. Thanks to his energy and hard work, and not least his sound business principles, he has been able to develop his business from its humble beginnings into an enterprise which is already able to promote the export of Finnish products to the eastern market to a considerable extent.
Mr Kutvonen is a »self-made man» in the full sense of the word. When he started his business in St. Petersburg, he sold his goods on the street himself and his »inventory» showed a total of 30-40 roubles in assets. After a while he began to sell goods from horse-drawn carts, and by 1893 his turnover had increased to the point where he felt he could establish a permanent general merchandise store. The following year he became a second class merchant.
Mr. Kutvonen's business was at first primarily dealing in Finnish fabrics, and it was largely due to his efforts that these gradually became popular among the population of St. Petersburg, especially the working classes.
As an indication of the extent of the business, it may be mentioned that in one of his retail shops last year Finnish fabrics and work clothes made from them were sold to the value of some 350,000 Finnish marks. It has been Mr K's policy that his shop should offer to the public only the products of Finnish factories.
In the year 1901 Mr. K. established a cheese wholesale business. In this field he has been doing a service for the dairy industry in Finland, with the aim of expanding the sales of Finnish cheese on the Russian market. Today, he is responsible for about a third of the volume of Finnish cheese sold to the Russian market (mainly to St. Petersburg and Moscow), and in recent years the average sales volume has risen to more than 1 million marks.
Mr. Kutvonen's method is a model especially for businessmen doing business in Russia, He has always dealt almost exclusively in cash and has always been extremely cautious in granting or sometimes requiring credit. In this way his business has acquired a solid foundation and a good reputation.
Today, in addition to his cheese shop, Mr K has three retail shops, one selling fabrics and two selling Finnish groceries.
He has also been given general positions of trust. So he is, among other things. a member of the Finnish Church Council in St. Petersburg and a member of the board of a Russian craftsmen's bank.
Last Sunday Mr. Kutvonen was the object of much attention on the occasion of the above-mentioned anniversary. A large number of servants gathered to congratulate their host and present him with a valuable memento.
At the same time, the host commemorated each of his servants with a gift of money. Many friends and business acquaintances also honoured Mr Kutvonen with greetings, flowers and letters on his special day.
— (S.H.) W. H.
News from St. Petersburg and Ingria
Friday, May 6th (19th), 1916
The layout of the text only mimics the original and the picture is not the one published in the newspaper.