By discussing the creation and subsequent failure of Coop Norden, set up by the Scandinavian consumer co-operatives in 2002 as a common wholesale and food retail enterprise, this article provides insights into the nature of the Scandinavian food retail sector and co-operative enterprises in an era of globalisation. The article combines recent research on the globalisation of retailing with the academic literature on the economic position and development of consumer co-operative enterprises. The article concludes that the failure of Coop Norden can be seen as the natural consequence of two inherent problems: 1. A flawed vision among co-operative managers on how globalisation would impact retailing and 2. A misalignment between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish co-operative agendas. The article is based on comprehensive studies of the internal co-operative archives in Denmark and Norway.