Dusseldorf, 20 February, 2015. At today's Annual General Meeting of METRO AG, the Chairman of the Management Board Olaf Koch gave investors a positive account of the Düsseldorf-based retail company for financial year 2013/14. "We constantly work to improve the range of products and services offered by each sales line and to make them more attractive - with increasing success. Thus we create unique value added for our customers", Koch said. "The dynamic growth of our online and delivery business has contributed to this positive business development, as have the many creative campaigns to mark the 50th anniversary of METRO Cash & Carry. Furthermore, we have made clear progress in reducing our debt and optimising our portfolio. To continue this positive development, we will intensify METRO GROUP's transformation process even further in 2014/15."
METRO GROUP had achieved its sales and profit targets for the financial year 2013/14: EBIT before special items reached €1,727 million and sales adjusted for portfolio changes and currency effects rose by 1.3%. By reducing net debt by €736 million, METRO GROUP materially strengthened its economic substance. To allow its shareholders to benefit from the positive business development too, a dividend of €0.90 per ordinary share will be proposed to today's Annual General Meeting.
Good start to the financial year 2014/15
In the first quarter of the current financial year, METRO GROUP saw growth in operating business: adjusted for currency and portfolio effects, group sales rose by 2.6%. Reported sales declined by 2.2% to €18.3 billion. This decline is due mostly to the sale of Real in Eastern Europe as well as to significant negative currency effects in large parts of Eastern Europe, particularly Russia and Ukraine. On a like-for-like basis, sales increased markedly by 2.1%. At €1,024 million, EBIT before special items was only down on the previous year (Q1 2013/14: €1,073 million) as a result of negative currency effects amounting to €60 million. METRO GROUP also continued to markedly strengthen its balance sheet: year-to-year, net debt declined by around €900 million to just €1.5 billion, the lowest level in more than 10 years.
For the financial year 2014/15, METRO GROUP expects to see a slight rise in overall sales, despite the persistently challenging economic environment. In like-for-like sales, METRO GROUP foresees a slight increase that will follow the 0.1% gain in the previous year. METRO GROUP expects EBIT before special items adjusted for currency effects to rise slightly above the €1,727 million produced in the financial year 2013/14, including typical levels of income from real estate sales. The METRO GROUP forecast is based on the current group structure and refers to currency-adjusted figures. In addition, it is based on the assumption of an unchanged geopolitical situation compared to the last reporting (Annual Report 2013/14).
New target to encourage women into management positions
In order to further increase the share of women in management positions, METRO GROUP has updated its self-imposed commitment in this regard and adjusted the existing target: By 2017, 25% of management executives on levels 1 to 3 should be women. For the Management Board of METRO AG, the Supervisory Board passed a resolution for a target of the same level at the instigation of the Management Board. Currently the quota of women who are working at METRO GROUP's management levels 1 to 3 is at 18.5%. "A diverse composition of personnel is decisive for the success of our company. We are focusing on long-term, trusting relationships with our customers, who are just as diverse as our employees," emphasised Heiko Hutmacher, Chief Human Resources Officer and a Member of the Management Board of METRO AG. "Diversity and thus also an adequate women quota must therefore be reflected in all areas of our company - and especially in the top positions." The Supervisory Board of METRO AG also increased its own targets: Following the Annual General Meeting in 2016, women and men should each make up at least 30% of representatives on the Supervisory Board. The minimum requirement should be fulfilled by representatives of both shareholders and employees.
Supervisory Board elections
The agenda for today's Annual General Meeting includes an election for an additional member to the Supervisory Board. Gwyn Burr, former executive manager at British retail chain Sainsbury's, is set to be elected to the Supervisory Board of METRO AG for the first time. Burr joined the Board by court appointment at the end of December 2014. Her appointment expires at the end of the Annual General Meeting. She will thus complement the shareholder representatives as successor to Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe. The Annual General Meeting will now take a decision on Burr's continued service on the Supervisory Board.