METRO GROUP increases sales 2012 in a challenging consumer environment

20 March 2013

  • Sales rose by 1.2% to € 66.7 billion (adjusted for portfolio measures: +2.3%); EBIT before special items reached around € 2.0 billion
  • Operating cash flow improved by around € 250 million
  • Net debt down € 830 million to € 3.2 billion
  • Dividend of € 1.00 per ordinary share proposed
  • Guidance for short financial year 2013: moderate rise in sales before portfolio adjustments expected, EBIT before special items including real estate income up from year-earlier period

In financial year 2012, METRO GROUP recorded a robust development overall in a challenging macroeconomic environment. Group sales rose by 1.2% to € 66.7 billion; adjusted for portfolio measures, sales climbed by 2.3%. EBIT before special items came in at € 1.976 billion and therefore in line with the revised guidance. At the same time, the company improved its operating cash flow by 11.9% to € 2.340 billion and reduced its net debt by 20.4% to € 3.245 billion. "The continued challenging consumer environment in many European countries resulting from the sovereign debt crisis again impacted business development at METRO GROUP in 2012", said Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG. "Thanks to first successes of our measures to enhance the customer value we nevertheless met our guidance and significantly improved our cash flow and debt position". A dividend of € 1.00 per ordinary share (in 2011: € 1.35) will be proposed to the Annual General meeting. This corresponds to a payout ratio of 52.9% following 51.3% one year earlier.  

METRO GROUP last year invested intensively into the further development of the company and initiated numerous strategic and structural changes. "2012 was the year of realignment for METRO GROUP. In all sales lines we focused our services and processes on creating a value added for the customer", said Koch. With the successful expansion of the delivery and multichannel activities, the improvement of the product ranges and their price position as well as the further strengthening of the own brands, METRO GROUP has significantly driven the customer orientated realignment of its business. In addition, METRO GROUP appreciably streamlined its portfolio last year in order to concentrate on the core business activities. This entailed high one-off expenses that have impacted earnings in 2012. "We have implemented fundamental changes during the past year. This came at a price and was also painful in many ways – but we are clearly changing for the better. In 2012, we have created first conditions for long-term growth".  

In financial year 2012, METRO GROUP's sales lines succeeded in increasing their market share in numerous countries. In addition, the company focused on new distribution channels and formats, an assortment that even better meets customer demands as well as extended customer advice and services. Multichannel sales grew across the Group in 2012. At Media-Saturn, for example, online sales more than doubled to nearly reach € 0.8 million; Media-Saturn thus generated around 4% of its sales online. At Galeria Kaufhof online sales more than doubled year on year. The Group also reported growth in own brand sales: at METRO Cash & Carry, the share of own brand sales climbed to 16.7%, at Real to 13.2% and at Galeria Kaufhof it reached 19%. In addition, METRO Cash & Carry stepped up its delivery sales by more than 30% to € 2.2 billion.  

Development of business in 2012

Despite tougher market conditions, especially in Southern Europe, METRO GROUP increased sales by 1.2% to € 66.7 billion in financial year 2012. In local currency, the growth came in at 0.8%. Adjusted for the divestment of MAKRO Cash & Carry in the UK and Media-Saturn in France, sales even climbed by 2.3%.  

In Germany, sales rose by 0.6% to € 25.6 billion. International sales even went up by 1.6%. The international share of sales thus increased slightly from 61.4% to 61.6%. In Western Europe, sales dropped by 4.3% to € 19.8 billion. One reason for this – apart from the challenging economic situation in Southern Europe – was in particular the divestment of MAKRO Cash & Carry in the UK. Adjusted for these portfolio effects sales in Western Europe only receded by 2.2%. Sales in Eastern Europe by contrast grew appreciably by 4.8% to € 17.8 billion. A very dynamic growth was reported in the region Asia/Africa. Here, sales climbed significantly by 26.2% to 3.5 billion. With these results, the share of sales of this region in 2012 for the first time surpassed 5% of the total sales of METRO GROUP. 

The operating profit (EBIT) before special items amounted to € 1,976 million and thus developed within the guided range of around € 2 billion. Including special items, Group EBIT declined by € 722 million to € 1,391 million. The special items totalling € 585 million include, in particular, restructuring expenses, goodwill impairments and impairments in connection with the sale of MAKRO Cash & Carry in the UK as well as the termination of Media Markt's Chinese business and effects from the sale of Real's Eastern European business. The largest part of these one-off expenses are investments into the future and growth of the company. In this regard, the expected positive effects will in the medium term more than compensate the special items now recognised.  

Due to these one-off expenses, earnings before taxes receded to € 810 million (in 2011: € 1,473 million). As the one-off expenses and recurrent losses were not capitalised with deferred taxes, the tax expenses did not drop in proportion to earnings. This resulted in an increase of the tax ratio to 87.5%. 

The net profit for the period before special items amounted to € 717 million (in 2011: € 979 million) and was adjusted for special items to the amount of € 615 million (in 2011: € 238 million). Including special items the net profit of the period amounted to € 101 million. After deducing the profit attributable to non-controlling interests to the amount of € 98 million, the net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of METRO AG including special items came in at € 3 million (in 2011: € 631 million). Earnings per share before special items amounted to € 1.89 (in 2011: € 2.63). Including special items, the earnings per share were € 0.01 (in 2011: € 1.93). The Management Board and the Supervisory Board of METRO AG propose to the Annual General Meeting on 8 May 2013 a dividend of € 1.00 (in 2011: € 1.35) per ordinary share and of € 1.06 (in 2011: € 1.485) per preferred share. 

  Before special items Including special items
Earnings METRO GROUP (€ million) 2011 2012 2011 2012
EBIT 2,372 1,976 2,113 1,391
Earnings before taxes 1,732 1,417 1,473 810
Net profit for the period 979 717 741 101
Net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of METRO AG 859 619 631 3
Earnings per share 2.63 € 1.89 € 1.93 € 0.01 €

The operating cash flow of METRO GROUP improved further by around € 250 million: a cash inflow of € 2,340 million (in 2011: € 2,092 million) could be generated from operating activities. The net working capital improved by € 80 million in the course of the year mainly due to strict stock management. Overall, the company succeeded in clearly raising the cash flow from operating and investing activities to € 1.714 billion (in 2011: € 1.020 billion). This is also reflected in the reduction of the net debt by € 830 million to € 3.245 billion. 


For the short financial year 2013 METRO GROUP expects in spite of the continuing difficult business conditions to generate moderate growth in sales (adjusted for portfolio changes). In the subsequent financial year 2013/14, METRO GROUP expects to see this moderate growth in sales continue compared with the respective period for the previous year. These projections are based on the assumption of virtually unchanged exchange rates. 

Earnings trends in the short financial year 2013 will be impacted by the uncertain economic situation. As a result, METRO GROUP will continue to closely focus in 2013 and future years on efficient structures and strict cost management. In the short financial year 2013 METRO GROUP expects EBIT before special items to increase compared to the level achieved in the corresponding period of the previous year (€ 704 million). This projection is based on the assumption of higher income from the sale of real estate assets compared to the year-earlier period. Due also to the lack of major sports events, operating earnings are expected to fall short of the level of the first 9 months of 2012. Here, we base our assumptions on relatively stable earnings contributions from Media-Saturn, Real and Galeria Kaufhof. At METRO Cash & Carry, we anticipate a decline in earnings due to the further investments needed to secure the company's long-term success. In addition, the general economic climate in many countries in Southern and Eastern Europe will remain challenging. For the short financial year we also expect a positive impact on the cash flow from the divestment of our Real activities in Eastern Europe and a significant reduction of the net debt. Barring a sustained deterioration of economic parameters we expect to generate higher EBIT before special items in the financial year 2013/14 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.  

Besides measures to enhance sales and efficiency, METRO GROUP will further intensify its efforts to improve the cash flow and net working capital in the short financial year. Also capex discipline and a reduction of the net debt remain clear targets for the company. From this, METRO GROUP expects a significant strengthening of the company's financial substance, even if 2013 will be a challenging financial year with regard to the macroeconomic development.  

Development of the business segments

METRO Cash & Carry

Sales of METRO Cash & Carry in financial year 2012 climbed by 1.7% to € 31.6 billion. Russia, China and Turkey in particular contributed to this positive trend. Like-for-like, sales improved by 0.2%. The sales growth was appreciably impaired by the market exit from the UK; adjusted for this portfolio change, sales grew by 3.2%.  
In Germany, sales receded by 3.3% to € 5.0 billion in financial year 2012. This is mainly attributable to the optimisation of the store portfolio which comprised 10 store closures in the fourth quarter 2011, and a weaker non-food business. Like-for-like, sales only came in 0.7% lower. 

EBIT before special items dropped by 17.5% to € 947 million. Including special items, EBIT reached €684 million (in 2011: €1,037 million). This decline is among other reasons also owed to the fact that METRO Cash & Carry invested into new functions to enhance customer value. These include a customer-orientated adaptation of the assortment as well as an extension of the customer management and the delivery business. Efficiency increases in other areas partly offset this effect. In addition, higher expansion costs and price investments had a negative effect on EBIT. Additional adverse effects resulted from weaker like-for-like sales in Southern Europe. With an EBIT margin before special items of 3.0%, METRO Cash & Carry generated a solid return in a challenging environment.  
As at 31 December 2012, METRO Cash & Carry was represented in 29 countries with 743 stores.


Despite store divestments sales of Real came in at the prior-year level of € 11.0 billion in 2012. Like-for-like, sales rose slightly by 0.1%. 

In Germany, sales came in slightly above the year-earlier level despite the store divestments; it climbed by 0.1% to € 8.1 billion. Like-for-like, sales grew by 1.0%. The positive sales trend reported during the first 9 months picked up further momentum in the final quarter, mainly due to the "Real Deal": in the framework of this campaign organised in October, every day a selected product was offered at a particularly attractive price.  

EBIT before special items receded by € 32 million to € 102 million. Including special items, EBIT reached € 25 million (in 2011: € 94 million). This decline was also owed to burdens resulting from the disposal of the Eastern European business activities to the French retailer Groupe Auchan in late November 2012.  

At the close of 2012, Real operated 421 hypermarkets in 6 countries. 


In 2012, Media-Saturn again confirmed its leading market position in Europe. Sales increased by 1.8% to € 21.0 billion in spite of the continued difficult macroeconomic conditions. Adjusted for the divestment of business activities in France in the year 2011, sales even rose significantly by 2.9%. The growth of Media-Saturn was also supported by the acquisition of Redcoon.  

In Germany, sales in financial year 2012 developed very gratifyingly and reached € 9.6 billion. Like-for-like, sales improved by 1.0%. For the first time since 2009, the company again reported a rise in sales. This positive sales trend over the year is attributable to investments that increased the attractiveness of Media-Saturn's store-based business, to the consistent expansion of the online business as well as to increased demand for consumer electronics during the European Football Championship. Media-Saturn won further market share in 2012. 

EBIT before special items receded from € 542 million to € 326 million. Including special items, EBIT came in at € 235 million (in 2011: € 493 million). This decline is mainly attributable to investments into prices and balance sheet provisions in the range of € 95 million for the discontinuation of Media Markt's business activities in China. A positive effect resulted from the more efficient cost structure.

At the close of 2012, the store portfolio of Media-Saturn comprised 942 consumer electronics stores in 16 countries.  

Galeria Kaufhof

Sales of Galeria Kaufhof receded by 0.9 % to € 3.1 billion. Like-for-like, sales declined slightly by 0.6 %. Due to the changed reporting of commission-based sales, sales of Galeria Kaufhof were adjusted accordingly in 2012 and in the prior year.  

In 2012, the conversion of Galeria's consumer electronics departments was completed in all German department stores in 2012. The company used the resulting floor space to extend its high-margin product ranges such as fashion, accessories, sports or toys. In the high-growth online business, Galeria Kaufhof made progress in its domestic German market: at the close of 2012, the product range offered at the online shop comprised more than 50,000 articles. Compared to the prior year, the company succeeded in more than doubling its online sales to € 25 million. EBIT climbed significantly to € 136 million following € 94 million one year earlier. Here, the manifold measures to optimise the portfolio showed their effect. Before special items, EBIT came in € 15 million above the prior-year value of € 121 million and reached € 136 million. The EBIT margin improved to 4.4 %. 

Real Estate

The real estate segment of METRO GROUP generated EBIT before special items to the amount of € 652 million (2011: € 643 million). This also includes higher proceeds from portfolio transactions. In December 2012, METRO PROPERTIES had combined 43 French METRO Cash & Carry locations to form a closed-end real estate fund. Including special items, the EBIT of the real estate segment decreased from € 639 million to € 607 million. This represents a decline of € 32 million which also results from the divestment of MAKRO Cash & Carry in the United Kingdom. Due to favourable market conditions, the net earnings contribution from portfolio transactions in 2012 amounted to a total of € 195 million following € 176 million one year earlier. 

As at 31 December 2012, METRO GROUP owned 620 locations (in 2011: 687). 

Key Financials 2012

(€ billion)
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
Sales 65.91 66.7 1.2% 0.8%
Germany 25.51 25.6 0.6% 0.6%
Western Europe (excluding Germany) 20.71 19.8 -4.3% -4.8%
Eastern Europe 16.91 17.8 4.8% 4.8%
Asia/Africa 2.81 3.5 26.2% 17.1%
EBIT (before special items) 2.372 1.976 -16.7%  
METRO Cash & Carry 2011
(€ billion)
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
Sales 31.11 31.6 1.7% 0.7%
Germany 5.11 5.0 -3.3% 3.3%
Western Europe (excluding Germany) 11.8 11.2 -5.5% -6.0%
Eastern Europe 11.51 12.1 5.5% 5.3%
Asia/Africa 2.7 3.4 25.9% 16.9%
EBIT (before special items) 1.148 947 million -17.5%  
Real 2011
(€ billion)
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
Sales 11.01 11.0 -0.1% 0.1%
Germany 8.11 8.1 0.1% 0.1%
Eastern Europe 2.9 2.9 -0.9% 0.1%
EBIT (before special items) 134 million 102 million -23.6%  
Media-Saturn 2011
(€ billion)
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
Sales 20.6 21.0 1.8% 1.5%
Germany 9.3 9.6 4.0% 4.0%
Western Europe (excluding Germany) 8.7 8.5 -2.8% -3.2%
Eastern Europe 2.5 2.7 7.8% 7.6%
Asia/Africa 92 million 132 million 43.5% 29.3%
EBIT (before special items) 542 million 326 million -39.7%  
Galeria Kaufhof 2011
(€ billion)
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
Sales 3.11 3.1 -0.9% -0.9%
Germany 2.91 2.9 -1.0% -1.0%
Western Europe 0.21 0.2 0.8% 0.8%
EBIT (before special items) 121 million 136 million 12.4%  
Real Estate 2011
(€ billion)
(€ billion)
EBIT (before special items) 643 million 652 million 1.4%

Key Financials Q4 2012

Sales Q4 2011
(€ billion)
Q4 2012
(€ billion)
Change Change in local currency
METRO GROUP 19.3 19.4 0.5% -0.6%
METRO Cash & Carry 8.6 8.6 0.4% -1.1%
Real 3.1 3.1 0.6% -0.3%
Media-Saturn 6.6 6.6 1.3% 0.6%
Galeria Kaufhof 1.0 1.0 -2.9% -2.9%

EBIT before special items Q4 2011
(€ million)
Q4 2012
(€ million)
METRO GROUP 1,307 1,272 -2.7%
METRO Cash & Carry 579 491 -15.3%
Real 121 106 -11.8%
Media-Saturn 379 332 -12.2%
Galeria Kaufhof 161 160 -0.2%
Real Estate 123 241 95.4%

1 In the 1st quarter of 2012, METRO GROUP has adjusted its definition of commission transactions that show sales proceeds only with the amount of the commission. As a result, a higher proportion of transactions are recognised as commission transactions. The resulting reduction of sales proceeds has no effect on the income statement as the corresponding cost of sales is no longer recognised either. The aim of this change of reporting is to improve comparability with other retailing companies, particularly in terms of EBIT margin. To ensure comparability, sales for the financial year 2011 were lowered by a total of €0.8 billion.  

METRO GROUP is one of the largest and most international retailing companies. In 2012 the Group reached sales of around € 67 billion. The company has a headcount of more than 280,000 employees and operates around 2,200 stores in 32 countries. The Group's performance is based on the strength of its sales brands which operate independently in their respective market segment: METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry – the international leader in self-service wholesale, Real hypermarkets, Media Markt and Saturn – European market leader in consumer electronics retailing, and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.