Metro Group

Retailer Aims to Digitalize Food Industry

Olaf Koch.Bloomberg.Alessia Pierdomenico
"The potential for value enhancement is enormous" in the food industry," said Olaf Koch, the CEO of German retailer Metro.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Olaf Koch leads restructuring efforts at Metro, Europe’s fourth largest retail group, with plans to expand into more modern markets.

  • Facts


    • Metro is collaborating with U.S. startup accelerator Techstars to select 30 new companies to pursue digitalization in the food industry.
    • Metro sales have grown over 10 consecutive quarters, in spite of economic headwinds.
    • Expansion possibilities include Myanmar, which has opened up politically, and Iran, after the lifting of Western sanctions.
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Olaf Koch has served as chief executive of the German retailer Metro since January 2012. The Düsseldorf company is Europe’s fourth-largest retailer by revenue, and includes Metro Cash and Carry, Media Markt and Saturn electronics, and Real discount grocery stores.

Last year Metro sold the Galeria Kaufhof department store chain to Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay and is looking for ways to expand. Mr. Koch, 45, spoke with the German weekly Wirtschaftswoche about the company’s future plans, including helping restaurants and other food-related businesses take advantage of the digitalization affecting the industry.

Mr. Koch, where did you leave your hoodie?

It’s in the closet. Why do you ask?

You’ve been at almost every startup conference in Germany recently. It couldn’t hurt to adopt the fashion of that hoodie-wearing target group.

Clothing doesn’t play a role, but relevance does. We can be an important partner for young entrepreneurs in reaching customers, for example in the food service industry. Whereas in mechanical engineering the catchword is Industry 4.0, food services is only at version 1.1 with regard to digitalization.


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