Despite the challenges, METRO CASH & CARRY continues its expansion and development plans

Despite the challenges, METRO CASH & CARRY continues its expansion and development plans


Q: You were recently appointed CEO of Metro Cash  &  Carry,  after  more  than  20  years  within  the  company.  What  is  your  main  objective  in  your  new  role,  and  which  is  the  most  important challenge that you can anticipate?

A.A. I  have  been  with  the  company  for  over  20  years.  I  have  started  my  career  here  and  during  this  time  I  gained  and  developed  an  in-depth  understanding  of  how  different  layers  of  our  business  work.  Having  this  background  and  experience,  I  can  contribute  to  further  consolidate  our  position  in  the  retail  market  and our relationship with our clients.

Speaking  of  challenges,  the  HoReCa  industry  has  been  severely  shaken  by  the  crisis.  As  a  responsible  partner,  one  of  our  priorities  is  to  offer  our  HoReCa  clients full support in this difficult time, by providing them  with  different  solutions  that  can  help  their  businesses survive in the new normal, such as sharing our know-how, competitive prices, dedicated training for   professionals   in   the   field   of   HoReCa,   digital   solutions like Mshop that allows placing online orders that  can  be  delivered  in  24  hours  from  any  METRO  store.

Another  objective  is  the  expansion  of  the  LaDoiPasi  network.     Now     the     network     includes     1300     convenience  stores,  and  our  target  is  to  reach  1500  stores nationwide in 2021, and 2000 by 2023.Of course, protecting our clients and employees, and implementing   all   necessary   safety   measures   to   prevent the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a top priority. We already have a dedicated working group that    collaborates    closely    with    the    Romanian    authorities throughout this period to ensure that we apply all the health & safety protocols

Q: It was clearly a less typical year, difficult and  overwhelming  for  most  of  us,  but  also  full  of  opportunities  for  those  who  were  able  to  identify  them.  How  was  2020  for  Metro  Cash  &  Carry  and  how  will  the  company  end the year?

A.A. Our  responsibility  is  to  be  a  reliable  partner  for  the  communities  we  serve,  no  matter  the  context, and this year’s results show that our clients trust us and our  expertise.  Despite  the  Covid-19  crisis,  we  will  achieve  a  good  single-digit  increase  in  our  turnover,  compared to 2019 results.

In terms of our clients, 60% are resellers, 20% come from  the  HoReCa  industry,  and  20%  are  companies.  The  drop  in  the  hospitality  industry  was  not  fully  compensated by resellers, but the number of HoReCa industry buyers in HoReCa is stable, which is a reward for our continuous efforts to support local businesses and communities, at national level.

Q: As  part  of  an  international  group,  and  having B2B clients, what major trends can you  identify  in  their  behavior,  as  a  result  of  the  Covid-19  pandemic?  What  was  the  impact  of  the  crisis  amongst  Metro’s  clients  and  how  is  this  reflected  in  Metro’s  activity  and  results,  at  group level?

A.A. Although  we  are  all  going  through  a  rough  time,  the  number of customers in HoReCa sector has remained constant,   while   the   total   number   of   traders,   is   increasing. We have about 60.000 resellers now and the number still grows.

There is a growing consumer preference for shopping local, so convenient „near home” small shops that are supplying vital goods to communities have now, more than ever, a good opportunity to be the choice of end customers.     As     such,     convenience     stores     are     increasingly  offering  fresh,  food-to-go,  and  evening  meal  options  to  entice  customers  and  to  meet  the  changing consumer preference.

We also focus on the continuous development of our private  labels  dedicated  to  HoReCa  customers,  such  as  the  Metro  Chef  range,  through  which  we  aim  to  make their businesses more efficient and to optimize costs with higher quality products

Q: The   pandemic   crisis   took   everyone   by   surprise   and   forced   us   to   shift   some   priorities.  Was  it  your  case  also?  Can  you  still  make  long-term  plans  and  projections  during  these uncertain and constant-changing times?

A.A. Indeed, the pandemic took everyone by surprise. But we    did    not    shift    priorities.    We    continued    to    concentrate  on  our  clients,  their  safety,  and  their  needs during this period.

We have taken all the safety measures to ensure that the  virus  is  prevented  from  spreading  across  the  shops, the storage area, but also in our headquarters. We  have  also  obtained  the  DEKRA  certification,  the  standard  for  reliable  locations,  which  testifies  that  our measures are in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization and local authorities. We also focused more on the availability of goods and making sure there are no supply interruptions.

We   are   more   cautious   now   in   terms   of   making   projections  because  we  don’t  really  know  when  the  pandemic will end, but we still have long-term plans such as expanding our LaDoiPasi network, investing in    our    digital    transformation,    continuing    the    development of our private labels etc.

Q: What new projects do you have in mind for the  near  future  and  which  are  the  top  5  priorities on your CEO agenda today?  

A.A. As   mentioned,   the   expansion   of   the   LaDoiPasi   network  will  continue  to  be  a  priority  for  the  near  future.

Improving  logistics  and  delivery  services  and  digital  transformation  are  other  important  projects  for  our  future evolution. This year, for example, we invested EUR  40  million  to  open  the  one-roof  platform  in  Stefanesti,  a  class  A  Plus  energy  -  efficient  location.  The platform is built based on the latest technologies and  help  us  streamline  operations  and  ensure  the  continuous flow of goods.

Another  priority  is  the  professional  development  of  our  team  members.  In  this  regard,  we  have  established a set of training sessions so that every employee can improve their skills or discover new ones     through     our     microlearning     platform,     SmartMe.

Q: Which is the most important lesson you think that we all should learn out of this pandemic     crisis?     And,     from     your     experience,  what  would  by  your  “Focus  on...”  advice  for  the  managers  of  local  companies,  in  order  to  successfully  overcome  this  challenging  period?

A.A. The  COVID-19  crisis  is  forcing  many  companies  to  rethink  their  business  model  and  strategy  towards  omnichannel  or  multichannel.  The  pandemic  has  pushed    people    online,    generating    a    significant    increase in e-commerce, so the digital transformation process is not an option, it is a priority.

Another  important  lesson  is  related  to  the  supply  chain.   The   state   of   emergency   showed   us   how   important it is to have a stable and reliable network of  suppliers,  to  be  able  to  provide  the  goods  clients  search for.

To overcome this challenging period, I would say it is important  to  never  lose  sight  of  what  really  matters  – our clients and finding the best options to respond to their needs.

You can also consult the interview in the document below: