International News - Metro vows to address Russian supply issues

German retail giant Metro says it is planning to plough more resources into tackling supply chain problems in Russia.

Speaking at the Adam Smith Retail Conference in Moscow on March 24, Metro chief operating officer for Eastern Europe and Russia Frans Muller said the country's supply chain systems were too fragmented and security was still a big issue.

Muller said the retailer was in talks with suppliers and haulage firms to find solutions to the problems, which include trucks being sent out on the road half empty. 'I have been at stores and seen trucks arrive with just half a load,' said Muller. 'That is not good for the environment, for waiting times or for the business.

'Supply chain is one way of giving you a competitive edge and it is important for it to be efficient,' he added.

Muller did not reveal how much Metro was planning to invest in the supply chain, but said it was looking into better IT support and ways to combine different loads.

In Russia, Metro operates seven Cash & Carry stores, and aims to build eight more this year. Five of the existing shops are in Moscow, but Metro intends to advance into other areas, such as the Don basin.

Metro - which also runs Real, MediaMarkt and Saturn in a variety of countries - reported a higher-than-anticipated rise of nearly 14 per cent in its profits for 2003, which reached EUR571 million (£381.3 million).

The retailer has predicted double-digit growth this year.