uido, you spent almost eight years in Ukraine and Russia for METRO. Why there?
I’ve always felt a wish to go abroad and further develop. 2007, I had the chance to take over the wholesaler in Kiew and to help building it. Beforehand, I had already been interested in this region. Therefore, I was neither surprised nor disappointed when I moved there.
Is there any special memory from your time there that has stuck with you?
If there is one thing that I learned, it’s that the customer’s needs and wants essentially are the same everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you work in Ukraine, Russia or Germany. Customers want good service, the right products with equally good quality. The most important thing is to listen to your customer. I was deeply impressed by the employee’s motivation over there. There is a constant striving to evolve, create something new and above all to learn new things. This is what stands out when I think of Ukraine and Russia.
Berlin has seen a downright revolution in its gastronomical development, which started off small and has become bigger and bigger
Since 2015 you are back in Berlin. What are your responsibilities today?
As a regional manager, I am responsible for Berlin and Brandenburg market. My focus lies on the following three matters: customer satisfaction, personnel management and reaching the predefined key performance indicators. However, our greater goal is to evolve from a traditional pick up store to a leading multi-channel wholesaler. In the past, our clients would come to our store and buy and pick up the goods. Today, many of our products are directly delivered to our clients. Others get delivered some of their goods but still come in our store to pick up fresh goods in order to be able to quality-check the products and seek inspiration from new offers. We want to be able to serve to ideally serve our clients through all distribution channels.
Are you able to detect the internatiolisation of Berlin’s restaurant scene?
Definitely. Berlin has seen a downright revolution in its gastronomical development, which started off small and has become bigger and bigger. Especially in the last years there’s been an immense evolution in this city. It’s not only star-chefs that define Berlin’s restaurant scene. The spectrum of culinary offers is tremendous. No other city in Germany has the culinary bandwidth to the extent of Berlin. The Berlin-based startup scene strongly contributes to the restaurant scene of the city.
Where do you see the connection of startups to the market?
The startups have good and above all creative ideas. We have the experience an know our customer base. We know, where and to who a certain idea or product might fit. We connect startups with customers. We allow them to individually get an idea of the startup and make their decision on whether or not to support it. A great example is Infarm, which we offer in our Berlin-Friedrichshein branch. Various kinds of herbs and vegetables are grown in a space-saving, vertical complex without any additional pesticides. The harvesting happens on-site and therefore only shortly before being consumed. Like this, the products maintain the full flavour. Another example is our Hauptstadtbarsch from the ECF-farm. This startup works with Aquaponik, which is combination of breeding fish and crop growing in the midst of Berlin. Several times a week we get delivered our bass without long transportation routes.
In that case, also smaller and regional producers have the chance to get into the METRO shelves?
Certainly. What’s on the shelves is not decided by us but by our customers. We are the intermediary. We listen to our clients and try to match our offer with their needs and wants. Regionality and seasonlity play a big role and we put a lot of focus on it.