Roberto Mancuso was appointed CEO of METRO Cash & Carry Serbia a few months ago, while retaining the same function in Croatia. Thus, the very first question in his interview with BIZLife magazine was: what are the differences between these two markets.
“There are plenty of differences, but there are similarities as well. On both markets, the HoReCa sector is developing rapidly and that goes hand in hand with business that Metro does and which, besides Serbia and Croatia, it does in other states as well. This is because Metro will be focused on B2B business in countries where it operates and where it will commence its operations in the following years – on one hand on the hospitality sector and on sole proprietorship businesses on the other, the latter being extremely developed in Serbia as well. That will be a chance for Metro to continue its growth. For example, HoReCa sector is extremely strong in Croatia, which allows company such as Metro to focus on only one part of services and to operate with that sector alone. Hospitality sector is being developed in Serbia, but it is not strong enough in order for us to do business only with them, thus we are working with entrepreneurs and independent traders as well, who buy goods for their shops at Metro,” Mancuso says.
What is unique for these markets?
Strength of the Croatian market comes from the fact that they have an average of 20 million tourists a year. Croatia is a relatively small country, but during those four summer months the country practically “explodes”. I do not see such expansion of tourism in Serbia in the near future.
On the other hand Serbia grows year after year, not only during the summer season but all year round, and that is an advantage of Metro both in terms of business and tourism because Serbia does not depend only on peak of the season, as business results are generated throughout the year. Practically speaking, Croatia has four months, and if something goes wrong in those four months, it will not recover over the course of an entire year. The situation in Serbia is, however, completely different.
At the global level Metro has been undergoing numerous changes for years. How that reflects on Metro in Serbia?
I’ve already been in Metro for 18 years and during that time many things happened in the company. I saw focus on the professional part of our business in all countries where I worked. The Metro began its business in nearly all countries by selling everything – and to everyone. This was a key factor when Metro began its business in a country. It was the same in Serbia. The market was “hungry” for an international retail chain offering them wide range of products and Metro’s only problem in Serbia was to open as many retail outlets as quickly as possible and stock them with goods because citizens were ready to come and purchase. The same story repeated itself every time in other countries as well.
How was this resolved?
At a certain point more and more competitors appeared and new retail chains entered the market, number of retail outlets that were closer to consumers got opened. Thus, Metro’s initial business that was directed to population subsequently started to fall, and business with the HoReCa sector and independent retailers grew. Thus Metro has specialized in B2B business for the past 10 to 15 years, in a way of becoming both supplier and partner for entrepreneurs who are able to improve their business.
What happens next when it comes to Metro’s operations is in Serbia?
What’s next? As I stated previously, Serbia is a very attractive market for Metro, especially in hospitality sector. You can see that more and more restaurants and hotels are being opened every year, while existing ones change, as they realize that they need to go forward, because you need to be different in order to be able to function. It’s not a time for everyone to just do what they are used to.
Source: BIZLife magazin
Writes: Milovan Miličković