METRO GROUP launches first start-up programme worldwide for digital solutions in the hospitality and food business

10 February 2015

  • Techstars METRO Accelerator: METRO collaborates with US partner Techstars to promote digital innovations for customers in the hospitality sector
  • Innovation to be an integral part of METRO GROUP’s corporate strategy: customer and market trends to be incorporated faster into business operations
  • Focus on new channels, logistics and marketing solutions as well as innovative services
  • New “Innovation in Retail Meetup” network promotes communication between start-ups and METRO GROUP

METRO GROUP is actively shaping the future of the trade industry and is increasingly opening up its sales lines both inwardly and outwardly to innovative ideas. With this objective, METRO is joining up with US company Techstars, one of the most highly recognised international mentorship programmes, to support innovative hospitality start-ups. The newly launched Techstars METRO Accelerator targets companies offering innovative technology applications for the restaurant, hotel and catering industries. In the context of this programme, experienced mentors and experts spend three months helping start-ups to advance their business. Techstars METRO Accelerator is the first global programme focused on technology applications for the hospitality sector. International digital agency R/GA will supplement both partners’ knowhow at the Techstars METRO Accelerator in Berlin.

Teams of founders are being sought with technology-based services and products that simplify, accelerate and digitise operational processes and customer relationships of restaurants, cafés, snack bars and catering businesses or hotels. The aim is to make this important METRO customer group even more successful in future thanks to technological innovations. The programme will kick off at the end of April in Berlin. “With programmes like the Accelerator, we are searching specifically for innovations that tie in with our strengths and which we can thus develop better than others,” says Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG and CEO of METRO Cash & Carry. “With 1.6 billion customers per year in our stores, almost a billion visitors on our websites and around 75 million loyalty cards, METRO GROUP has a unique customer base in a broad portfolio of retail formats. Coupled with our marketing and sales power as well as our procurement competence, we have the ability to help new ideas and innovations, both stationary and digital, to succeed.”

In order to promote communication between innovative technology start-ups from the trade and hospitality sectors with METRO GROUP and its sales lines, the company has created a new platform. At the “Innovation in Retail Meetups” at the Metro Campus in Düsseldorf, business founders present their ideas and business models and discuss them with other entrepreneurs, start-up experts and Metro representatives. The bi-monthly Meetups were started only recently, but have already evolved into a popular networking platform for the sector.

Overall, the international retail and wholesale company is amalgamating the realignment of its sales lines according to relevant customer, market and technological trends. To this end, METRO GROUP is merging the areas of Strategy, Investment Management and Business Innovation into one powerful strategic unit. “Our strategy aims to achieve a balanced mixture of business models and countries in future,” Koch says. “This includes on the one hand the repositioning of our sales lines, but also developing new business segments. With our new innovation approach, we see ourselves well equipped to do this.”

Within this framework, METRO GROUP is aligning itself into five innovation areas that will serve as a basis for all innovation projects. The first innovation area, “Store”, will take into account the development that purely online traders are increasingly looking for a way into real selling spaces. One successful test project in this context was a pop-up store that the US online trader eBay carried out in cooperation with online payment service PayPal and METRO GROUP in Bremen up to the end of January 2015. All sales lines are set to profit from the new opportunities for customer retention, sales approach, and customer advice and incentivisation.

The second innovation area, “Channel”, focuses on the accelerated development of various distribution channels. Multi- and omni-channels are the relevant approaches that must be implemented here. The most recent example is the Media Markt and Saturn web shops on the eBay platform that have been opened as a new distribution channel.

The growth of food e-commerce has conferred even greater importance on logistics. The third innovation area, “Logistics, Supply Chain, Procurement and Warehousing”, will open up new opportunities in this segment for METRO GROUP. Finally, the aim of the fourth innovation area, “Marketing”, is to optimise the sales approach of all sales lines.

The fifth innovation area, “New Products & Services”, will develop customer-centred models for new products and services. For example, more than just the normal product range is to be offered to METRO Cash & Carry’s most important customer base: companies from the gastronomy, hotel and catering industry. Specially tailored services are set to support customers particularly in the sector’s ongoing digitisation.

METRO GROUP is one of the largest and most important international trading companies. During the financial year 2013/14, it generated sales of about €63 billion. The company operates around 2,200 stores in 30 countries and has a headcount of around 250,000 employees. The performance of METRO GROUP is based on the strength of its sales brands that operate independently in their respective market segments: METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry – the international leader in self-service wholesale – Media Markt and Saturn – the European market leader in consumer electronics retailing – Real hypermarkets and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.