Metro Wholesale gears up for Myanmar expansion based on digital technology
DRIVEN by big potential in Myanmar’s food wholesale industry, Metro AG, a leading German wholesale company with operations in 36 countries, will expand its business in the nation, say the firm’s senior executives.
Philippe Palazzi, chief operating officer and member of the management board of Metro AG, said the firm would significantly enlarge its footprint into new and promising markets, including Myanmar.
“Our business in Myanmar is built on the professional delivery operation from our warehouse located in Thilawa Special Economic Zone,” he noted.
“It uses e-commerce and mobile app platforms, and adoption of the latest technology, to establish the first international-standard supply chain management and delivery system in Myanmar.”
Palazzi said the firm has implemented international food-safety standards and measures throughout the supply chain addressing all critical links from farm to fork. He said the firm’s engagement in Myanmar’s trade sector would help boost local economic growth, including agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors, and help upgrade the food wholesale infrastructure for the local community.
The executive stressed the importance of fostering local talents, which make up the vast majority of the firm’s workforce in Myanmar. The firm conducts training programmes for farmers and food suppliers to transfer know-how and ensure quality standards, he said.
Central to the wholesale operations in Myanmar is a 5,800-square-metre warehouse in Thilawa where incoming goods are stored and packed in compliance with food safety standards for delivery to customers. Currently, customers across the country can select from over 2,000 products through the firm’s digital platforms including its website and mobile application.
Jens Michel, chief executive of Metro Wholesale Myanmar Ltd, reaffirmed the firm’s commitment to becoming the market leader in Myanmar, through fostering relationships, entrepreneurship and sustainable business. He pledged the firm would never stop learning, and would be accountable for both success and failures.
“This market is developing gradually with professionalised services, and we are in a strong position to lead this shift,” he said.
“We see ourselves playing an important role to elevate the food distribution industry here. According to our independent research, 90 per cent of professional customers order currently on delivery, with wholesale and wet markets contributing the largest share of the B2B segment.”
He also stressed the importance of digitalisation in every aspect of Metro’s business.
“As businesses and consumers rapidly adopt technology in this mobile-first country, we will be at the forefront to bring convenience and efficiency to customers and partners using our digital assets,” he said.
“We have already made inroads towards our vision of digitising our full operations from inventory and order management to human resources and fleet management.”
To ensure the maximisation of its digital platforms, the firm will conduct on-boarding training with customers so they understand how to best utilise them. It will also guide customers on how to use live chat and cloud messaging services. Its e-commerce platforms will allow Metro to tap analytics so as to better engage its customers, he said.
Setting a target for local sourcing for 75 per cent of its products, the firm will also increase the number of products to 2,400 by June this year. Its workforce of 150 employees is of 90 per cent local origin, he said. The firm recently secured a US$20 million (Bt634 million) loan from International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of World Bank Group. With IFC’s investment, the firm expects to increase agricultural incomes and help reduce poverty, as well as improve the quality and availability of local produce and thus benefit buyers and end consumers, said Michel.
“It will help us source the majority from local farmers and companies, raising food safety standards and create more than 300 jobs and significant indirect employment in food processing and logistic services,” he said.