At METRO we are soon closing the chapter of our transformation from a diversified retail conglomerate to a fully focused food wholesaler. However, the closing of a chapter is the opening of a new one – for us, the new chapter is Wholesale 360.

METRO is broadening its business, moving from purely transactional to service and solution oriented. Leveraging its reach to more than 24 million customers across 36 countries, METRO will amplify its contribution to independent business owners in the HoReCa and Trade sectors. These are the entrepreneurs behind small and medium-sized businesses which are on the one hand the backbone of our economies but on the other hand often exposed to significant risks with little to no support. These risks are not negligible; in fact they are the reason for closure of many businesses – increasing labour and lease costs, intensified and complex legislation and ever-changing consumer demands, just to name a few. This means METRO plays a vital role in driving long-term sustainability of SMEs and therefore preserving the diversity of choice, colour, taste and soul.

This is a journey that starts with profound customer understanding and runs through trustful and longstanding relationships. These relationships are at the core of what differentiates our business from retail – we know our customers, we visit them regularly to invest the necessary time in understanding their struggles and how we can support in making their businesses more successful. For example, we understood that the majority of independent business owners, when compared to larger chained businesses, lack online visibility and the support of digital tools to optimise their operations – to counter that we have been building DiSH, the largest digital HoReCa community and a platform to give restaurateurs the access to affordable solutions tackling staff management, waste management and overall productivity, amongst others. Another example is our upcoming launch of a financing solution tailored specifically for the needs of our customers who often struggle to access the funds to modernise or expand their business. But even at a local level we are able to cater services and solutions addressing needs that are globally relevant. A great example of that can be seen in France where in 2017 we launched the initiative “My restaurant goes Green” to support our customers in adopting sustainable processes; this goes as far as advising on the optimal consumption of water and energy, the management and recycling of general waste and the reduction of food waste. From global projects to local initiatives, from restaurants to small grocery stores, we want to do more for business passionate people in a responsible way.

While this is a strong purpose and these principles are simple to convey, it is not easy to bring it to life everywhere at the needed pace. The reality is more complicated than that and meanwhile, despite increased awareness of the risks, we still see developments in various parts of the world which call for further and immediate action. There is a pivotal role in educating our customers and their end consumers on why certain practices need to be in place without compromise in order to ensure future-proof businesses.

We cannot and must not do it alone and that is why we see The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) as the ideal platform to debate these issues in a meaningful way and outline sizeable actions in partnership with the largest stakeholders in the industry. After all, that is what the CGF is all about: not only embracing change, but leading it.

This post was written and contributed by:

Olaf Koch
Chairman of the Management Board


About Olaf Koch

Olaf Koch has been with METRO AG since 2009 when he was appointed a member of the Management Board serving as Chief Financial Officer until December 2011. As of January 2012, Olaf Koch was appointed Chairman of the Management Board. Prior to joining METRO, Olaf was Managing Director Operations at the Private Equity company Permira Beteiligungsberatung GmbH which he joined after a tenure at Daimler Chrysler AG, having occupied a number of managerial positions: from 2002 to 2007 he was Member of the Management Board of the Mercedes Car Group, responsible for Finance, Controlling and Strategy. Prior positions at Daimler Chrysler AG included an appointment as Vice President for Corporate e-Business, and Director of Corporate e-Business Strategy and Corporate War Room.