Friday February 14, 2020
By Matthias Rutkowski, Düsseldorf
Metro boss Koch praised the sale of the Real supermarket chain in the Düsseldorf city hall. At the edge of the Annual General Meeting, employees express their displeasure. The workforce torments fears of existence: "Because nobody knows what will become of us," says one employee.
Desiree Simon is standing in a yellow safety vest and whistle in front of the entrance to the Düsseldorf city hall. "It's about my job and I want to show them that I'm going to fight for it," says the 40-year-old from Castrop-Rauxel. Those in there are the shareholders of the Metro group. Simon is still a cashier at the Real supermarket chain, which belongs to the Metro wholesale group. Metro AG 12.69 The company sells Real in order to concentrate only on business with wholesalers in the future. 277 Real stores go to SCP Groups and X + Bricks for 300 million. But the buyers will not continue to operate all branches. Around 30 Real locations are threatened with extinction, but it is unclear which exactly it will hit, which is why Desiree Simon demonstrates with around a thousand Real employees from North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in front of the Düsseldorfer Stadthalle, where the Metro General Assembly takes place this year , While the shareholders are listening to the speech by Metro boss Olaf Koch, salespeople, trainees and trade unionists are protesting against the real deal outside. "I only go to work unmotivated" "For a year and a half, my fellow workers have been tormenting me because nobody knows what will become of us," said Desiree Simon. She and 13 colleagues from her market in Castrop-Rauxel set off on the bus at 5 a.m. to clear up their displeasure and fears. "We have known that Real should be sold since mid-2018, but we were held up for almost a year and a half," Simon accuses the Metro management. No one knows from the employees whether he will still work for Real in the future. (Photo: imago images / Olaf Döring) She receives support from Real employees from other branches. Denise Schmidder works at the cheese counter in Grevenbroich. Even if Metro circles say that they have negotiated a socially acceptable settlement scheme with the unions, they are plagued by fears about the future. "I just go to work unmotivated and my confidence sinks every day that everything will still be fine." Real burned around 250 million euros in money last year alone. One of the reasons for Metro boss Koch to part with the loss-making daughter. "We can no longer carry this business on," he says to the shareholders. Schmidder is not convinced. "At the end of the day, I also have to pay my rent and bills. It doesn't work without a job." For Real there is no place in the Metro strategy become. It is unclear what will become of the total of 34,000 employees. There is a guarantee for 50 stores that they will continue to operate for at least two years. Markets with large sales areas could be divided. However, almost 30 locations will disappear. The supermarket chain no longer fits the overall strategy of the Metro. Wholesalers, digital offers for professional restaurateurs and service are the focus of Olaf Koch's new corporate orientation. He is currently also looking for a buyer for the China business. With the sales of Real and the China division, the group hopes to generate net revenues of around 1.5 billion euros. Dennis Walter is also among the demonstrators on this wet and cold morning. The 27-year-old seller of the electronics department from the Real Markt Castrop-Rauxel is worried about his future, but he thinks much more about his colleagues. "Most of the women in our market work from the age of 40 upwards. I am young and can quickly find a new job. But it is more difficult for them." And although Metro achieved its corporate goals last year and generated sales of 29.9 billion euros, Walter accuses the management of mismanagement. "We feel like a second-class company that you just want to get rid of." The Real employees demonstrate for just under three hours. Desiree Simon has not yet given up hope of a good outcome for real sales for herself and her colleagues. "I did my apprenticeship in Castrop-Rauxel and have been working there for 23 years," said Simon, "I hope it will go on, only how will it become clear in a few months"