Olaf Koch, the chief executive of wholesaler Metro AG, has said that the business is eager to "capture the additional opportunities that lie ahead", following the completion of the sale of its Real hypermarket business.
The sale of the business to SCP Group, following regulatory and competition approval, results in a net cash inflow of around €300 million for Metro.
In a statement, Metro said that the deal means that the business has now completed its 'portfolio transformation, on its way to becoming a fully-fledged wholesale company'.
Along with the cash from the Real sale, the sale of a majority stake in Metro China means that the business now has a cash pile of around €1.9 billion, with which it plans to 'strengthen the balance sheet, increase liquidity reserves, lay the foundation for dividend continuity and improve optionality for organic and inorganic investments'.
As part of the deal, SCP Group, supported by its strategic partner x+bricks Group, will take over Real's bricks and mortar and digital operations, affiliated companies and its real estate portfolio – as well as approximately 34,000 employees.
"The sale of this retail business concludes a long series of divestments, successfully transforming Metro into a fully focused wholesale company," Koch said.
"We started this journey to maximise our growth and earnings potential. We have made a lot of progress but are equally excited to capture the additional opportunities that lie ahead of us. Besides our strengthened strategic focus as a pure wholesaler, we also benefit from a solid liquidity position, a robust financial structure and the flexibility to invest in our growth and consolidate our position in key markets.”
Metro also said that it has used the COVID-19 lockdown period to increase the level of communication with its 16 million customers, offering them advice on ways to digitise their business, and trading through the crisis.
“As restaurants, hotels and caterers have recently restarted their businesses, we have helped them succeed," said Koch. "That’s why we will come out of the crisis stronger and better positioned than ever before.”
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.