#WeStandWithUkraine - We are ONE METRO
In his speech to METRO AG shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on 24 February 2023, CEO Dr Steffen Greubel also spoke about the war in Ukraine, METRO's business there and the support provided to Ukraine. In addition, he explained why METRO decided to remain in Russia after intensive consideration processes. Below is the excerpt from his speech.
Excerpt from the speech by Dr Steffen Greubel, Annual General Meeting 2023
Let me go into this a little more because the war not only shook the world a year ago, but also poses great challenges for us in METRO.
We all agree on the assessment of the war. This war brings death and endless suffering to large parts of the Ukrainian population and it has triggered a supply and energy crisis for countries and continents. The economic and political consequences of this war of aggression are not yet foreseeable.
The METRO condemns Russia's war against Ukraine without any ifs or buts. This position has not changed since the war began a year ago.
This condemnation is also so clear because we operate a wholesale business with 3,400 colleagues in Ukraine. Despite the omnipresent danger, they do their duty in our stores every day. Our colleagues in Ukraine supply the population and the army with food and everyday items.
This is one of the reasons why we at METRO are clearly on Ukraine's side and have done a lot to maintain our business in the country even under war conditions. We have set up an aid fund, support colleagues on the ground with financial aid and continue to ensure food deliveries to Ukraine.
It borders on a small miracle, but we owe it to the strong will of the Ukrainians and the solidarity within the METRO Group that we have been able to keep more than 20 of our 26 stores open regularly since the beginning of the war, and currently even 23 stores.
However, as clear as our condemnation of the Russian war of aggression is and our determination to support the Ukrainian business to the best of our ability, we also came to the conclusion early on that holding on to our business in Russia was the right decision for METRO.
The Management Board and also the Supervisory Board were aware that the decision to stay in Russia would attract criticism. It was and is a difficult weighing process for us as well.
And so, in the end, the following reasons were decisive for us to stick to METRO's Russian business: We bear responsibility for our 10,000 local employees as well as for our customers who buy their food from METRO Russia. METRO Russia is also a large business with significance for the Group's overall portfolio.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we did not take the decision to hold on to METRO Russia lightly and we regularly review the situation in the Management Board. But we are still convinced today: It was the right decision. Not only, but also in the interest of preserving the value of this company for its shareholders.
We have made a consistent decision in the interests of the company. A policy of piecemeal concessions would not have been compatible with this approach.
29 March 2022
For us as a company, the priority now is to support our colleagues on the ground and help the people in Ukraine, as well as the refugees from Ukraine through concrete initiatives.
METRO supports food and water deliveries of the UN World Food Programme to Ukraine. METRO employees assist their Ukrainian colleagues with personal donations to our fund and with accommodation for refugees. We are deeply impressed by the great willingness of our colleagues in Ukraine's neighbouring countries to provide goods to Ukraine and help refugees directly at the borders.
Overview of current help programmes of METRO/MAKRO countries
METRO has been active in Ukraine since 2003 and is one of the largest German employers in the country. METRO Ukraine has 3,200 employees who normally work in 26 wholesale stores. In two of these stores, operations have been suspended for the time being due to the war. Since the beginning of the war, the employees have been working hard to help maintain the food supply in the country. METRO Ukraine is providing support in various ways in the current situation:
Humanitarian support and social engagement
- Daily donations to military units, hospitals and non-profit organisations. From 24 February 2022 to 30 September 2023, 833 tonnes of food, 128 tonnes of hygiene and household products and 77 tonnes of non-food products were donated to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
- Overarching social responsibility:
- Establishment of "Points of Invincibility" in 5 METRO stores: Citizens can warm up, eat and charge phones etc.;
- Safe School Programme - Provision of basic air raid shelter equipment for children;
- Sunshine Café - partnership at the opening of the first social café-bakery in Kiev, where people with disabilities work;
- Christmas charity initiative "METRO Mykolay" - donations for displaced children.
- Support charity projects of the local gastronomy:
- Charity auction "Military Michelin" in Chernihiv;
- Partner of the Radisson Blu social project in Kiev (preparation of hot meals for displaced persons, pensioners and low-income families);
- Support for the Association of Gastronomes of Ivano-Frankivsk, which provides meals for the army.
METRO Austria supports civil aid organisations such as the Red Cross, the Civil Defence Association, Volkshilfe and many more with goods, organisation and logistics. Above that, METRO Austria also assists its customers in their efforts to help. Within the team, METRO Austria colleagues also support each other, as METRO ensures that colleagues from Ukraine and their family members are taken in and cared for in neighbouring countries on request. Since 1 March all customers – organisations and people – with the aim to support the Ukrainian citizens receive a discount on purchases, which is then refunded for Ukraine.
Together with Bulgarian Food Banks and the Bulgarian Red Cross, METRO Bulgaria instantly donated basic food supplies to refugees. Our colleagues are in contact with authorities on possible employment offers for people from Ukraine. Apart from that, they support the UNICEF VIBER campaign and are setting up an option for customers to buy products and deposit directly after cash desk.
MAKRO Czech Republic - thanks to the commitment and cooperation of colleagues and customers - has donated necessary goods. The first deliveries of food, beverages and drugstores have already reached their destination and others will follow in the coming days. In cooperation with Caritas Czech Republic, the team of MAKRO Czech Republic dispatched 2 trucks with a total of 40 tons of humanitarian aid already on 3 March. The distribution of goods arrived in the Mariupol area on 8 March. In cooperation with the Czech Food Bank, a quickly organised collection in all of our 13 stores secured a total of 27.2 tons of goods in 7 days to help the war refugees coming to the Czech Republic. Through the UN Food Programme, MAKRO Czech Republic helped supply Košice. In the very first days, the city became one of the main destinations for refugees heading to Slovakia. The teams of METRO Czech Republic helped to cover their basic living needs with a supply of material. Two deliveries of not only fresh goods were delivered to the Prague Congress Centre on Thursday 10 March serving as the refugee registration hub. Thousands of people pass through the local assistance centre for assistance to refugees every day.
METRO Germany undertakes various support actions. The latest example: together with the baby and children's food manufacturer Pumpkin Organics, METRO Germany and the aid organisation Haus der Hoffnung e.V. are bringing a total of 280 pallets of baby food to Ukraine. Apart from that, more than 70 pallets of relief goods have been dispatched on 7 March from the central warehouse in Hamm to the Polish-Ukrainian border. Besides, a donation fund for colleagues in Ukraine has been set up in cooperation with METRO AG to which all METRO employees can donate. More relief actions can be found on their dedicated website
METRO MARKETS - A dedicated subpage within the marketplace of METRO Germany allows customers to buy certain products which are then directly delivered to the food bank “Tafel Deutschland e.V.”. The aid organization distributes food and emergency packages to the Ukrainian refugees in Germany, whose need for food and hygiene goods has been rising dramatically. METRO supports food banks in a lot of countries, the close cooperation with Tafel Deutschland e.V. has been running since 2006.
In Nyíregyháza, a city situated in north-eastern Hungary, METRO, partners and various aid organisations support those who are continuously helping refugees from Ukraine with donations. Donation possibility for METRO customers has also been established at local stores, where those willing to support can contribute with non-perishable food and non-food products.
Together with an aid organisation called European Initiative, more than 60 pallets of goods donated by METRO Hungary were collected with the help of the stores and then transported from our warehouses in Nyíregyháza and Budakalász to Ukraine. In accordance with the preliminary agreement with the aid organisation, the consignment includes dry goods, durable food, blankets and further necessary goods.
METRO Italy donates to the World Food Programme Italy, the main humanitarian organisation and agency of the United Nations. It is committed to fighting hunger in the world, and METRO Italy has been a partner for over a decade.
WFP Italy's dedicated programme has two main objectives: to deliver food directly to depots in Kiev, Lviv and Chernivtsi for Ukraine, where millions of people are currently in urgent need of food and water. The same support goes out to neighbouring countries such as Poland, Moldova and Romania, where there are currently millions of refugees who also need access to essential goods. Employees can also donate individually to the WFP project in Italy through their payroll.
METRO Kazakhstan provides its support through the Embassy of Ukraine. On 1 March, the Embassy of Ukraine in Nur-Sultan announced on social media the collection of humanitarian aid. The timing was tight, as the first flight with essential items such as medicine and items for children was scheduled to leave on 3 March. In the shortest possible time, our colleagues at store 10 were able to organize the purchase and delivery of all the necessary goods to the Embassy in Nur-Sultan.
METRO Moldova immediately stepped in to support its neighbours from Ukraine. So far, 29 METRO employees and their family members have received transportation, warm food and all the necessities to feel welcome in Moldova. The team of METRO Moldova also offered support for the transit of the Ukrainian colleagues or their family members to other European countries.
In cooperation with the Emergency Management Authority, the Chisinau City Hall and other non-profit organisations, METRO Moldova provided donations of food products and basic needs. More than 1,300 blankets and 150 sleeping bags are on the way from MAKRO Netherlands and Belgium to Moldova, to support local authorities. In addition, in close collaboration with the local food bank, METRO Moldova placed boxes in our stores to collect food for the canteens of the refugee centres.
MAKRO Netherlands set up an emergency donation in which they focus their activities on three channels:
MARA – an organisation that delivers goods (food) directly to Ukraine. They have found a corridor to deliver close to the front. 32 pallets of long-life food products have already reached Mykolaiv.
Supporting METRO Moldova by delivering non-food. Supporting refugees via the Ukrainian embassy with delivering non-food through the Foundation Spoetnik.
Over 300 volunteering employees from MAKRO Poland offer housing or transfer between the boarders of Ukraine and Poland to safe places. Our people could thereby help almost 100 refugees. They also created an employees’ fond cooperating with the Piotr Kotowski Foundation to finance children from Ukrainian orphanages coming to Poland. This total amount also includes financial support by our company. Furthermore, we collaborate with the Food Banks Federation, where we give donations in kind with food products and provide financial support. Colleagues from METRO Ukraine, who had to flee have been taken care of, some of them now work for MAKRO Poland. They do everything to fast-track employment proceedings and, of course, also offer language support. On top of that, we donate and deliver food supply to the METRO store in Lviv, a city in the west of Ukraine, about 70 km away from the Polish border. Finally, together with other METRO countries, we provide organisations of potential logistics of food supplies to METRO Ukraine.
METRO PROPERTIES Poland conducts the collection "#BeKind – Solidarity with Ukraine" at M1 centres for as long as necessary. Additionally, we have managed to collect more than a whole bus of the most necessary items – medicines, tourniquets, batteries, charged power banks, dry food, blankets, sleeping bags, etc. which are on their way directly to Kyiv.
Together with Aviludo, MAKRO Portugal collaborates with the Red Cross and make a monetary donation. Our Portuguese colleagues open their doors and offer employment to refugees who come to Portugal. Locally, the stores can make donations to institutions that want to support this cause.
METRO Romania receives many requests from various humanitarian associations from the towns in northern Romania. Due to a good infrastructure, they were able to set up premises to help the refugees. Food donations come to the METRO stores in Suceava and Baia Mare, which are close to the border. We organise the delivery of food (water, canned food, sweets) and food-related products (detergents, cosmetics) through the Red Cross. A first convoy towards the Ukrainian hub in Cernauti of the Romanian Red Cross contained 10 pallets of food items from METRO Romania, 6 of which were destined to support our METRO colleagues in Ukraine. We are in constant exchange with Food Bank and the Red Cross, as the need for help is continuous.
METRO Romania and LaDoiPasi Franchise, also participated in a TV initiative WE ARE ONE, calling all retailers to run TV spots during a charity concert on 12 March, where all the singers performed for free. The equivalent value of the tickets and the fee incurred for the advertising slot were donated to the Red Cross in Romania.
To support Ukrainian refugees in the country, METRO Romania also launched a dedicated humanitarian campaign on 28 March 2022. Between 28 March and 16 April, the company will donate 2 RON (Romanian Lei) to the Romanian Red Cross for every invoice paid in METRO stores and in the online shop. The initiative has been met with a very positive response and great commitment from customers and the public.
METRO Serbia has donated food and equipment to the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration Republic of Serbia for the refugees reception centre in Vranje, which currently houses dozens of families. Part of the food donations will be delivered through packages to the citizens of Ukraine who have found accommodation in Serbia on their own but are financially in need. In addition, METRO Serbia has informed its employees on a dedicated donation account set up by the Red Cross Serbia.
Already during the first days after the outbreak of the conflict, METRO Slovakia provided food aid directly at the borders in cooperation with SAMO and the Red Cross and under the auspices of the president of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová. At the same time, they supply very targeted food aid directly to Ukraine and Slovakia. Their 6 METRO stores are in contact with individual humanitarian organisations and volunteers. Many of our colleagues are actively helping war refugees by providing food at the borders and offering accommodation.
MAKRO Spain set up a donation campaign with UNHCR and supports the World Central Kitchen, an organisation which cooks meals for refugees at the Ukrainian border.
METRO International AG (MIAG) supports with a donation to Swiss Solidarity. The organization works with NGOs operating in the region and fund aid projects not only within Ukraine, but also in neighbouring countries where refugees are being hosted.