German distribution group Metro has not given any clarification on a possible departure from Belgium. “We are constantly evaluating our portfolio,” CEO Stephen Grobel had to say on Investor Day Wednesday. “If decisions are made, we will communicate.”
Having already informed De Tijd last week that the seventeen Belgian branches Makro and Metro are for sale, the German branch Handelsblatt On Monday, the metro will withdraw from Belgium and India. The newspaper said Greubel will provide clarification on this on Wednesday. But the CEO has not yet allowed his cards to be considered. The company revealed its new growth strategy on Investor Day, but did not say a word about the fate of eleven metro and six macro stores in our country.
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When asked about the plans, the CEO remained silent. He emphasized that “our portfolio is one of our strengths” and that the company is currently “satisfied.” “But we are constantly evaluating our portfolio,” Grubel said. “If decisions are made, we will communicate.” Chief Financial Officer Christian Bayer also confirmed that there are no concrete transactions so far regarding the Belgian and Indian activities.
Trade union unrest
The German administration’s answers failed to allay the fears of the Belgian trade unions. “We don’t really know anything anymore,” says Jan Muwens, federal secretary at the BBTK socialist trade union. “The coffee is still ground to see what happens.”
In fact, he says, the unionist “would rather have clarity now than be obfuscated.” “We feel there may still be plans on the table, but management has recognized that a number of rules apply in Belgium, which is that major changes must first be reported to the Labor Council.” No meeting has been scheduled for that body at the moment.
A meeting is scheduled for February 8 between trade unions and the Belgian Metropolitan Administration. This actually relates to extending a number of collective labor agreements, but according to Moines, labor unions will also use the discussions to “set the points and transcend the letter.” “We will confirm that if they have things to advertise, they must first organize a private business council.”