Comprised of two networks — the Metro Cash and Carry wholesale stores and the My Market retail chain — Greek grocery retailer Metro was born in 1976. Proudly family owned and devoted to providing outstanding customer service, Metro has more than 287 outlets across Greece.
CEO Aristotelis Panteliadis grew up in the Metro business in a family with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He tells The CEO Magazine about his journey through various roles in the company, what makes Metro a great place to work, and why he believes Metro is so important to Greece’s future.
Aristotelis Panteliadis on his varied roles within the family business
I started working at Metro before my graduation from university in 1989. Being inquisitive and skeptical, I have always wanted to learn from experience, not just theory. Over a period of 16 years, I worked in most of the company’s departments, gradually assuming broader responsibilities. It has been my choice to participate in the company’s administration step by step and climb the corporate ladder progressively — and only after methodically gaining deep knowledge and experience across all facets of the business. I am really proud of our company and I have been deeply honoured to take over as the next generation to ensure its continuing success and growth.
Ensuring growth is sustainable and guided by company values
“Since 1976, our growth has been achieved very carefully. Our values have actually guided this aspect of operation as well, which are: integrity, honesty, and responsibility. We methodically and steadily open new stores. Each new store meets specific standards in order to be in a position to stand up to current and potential future competition. Opening stores has never been a goal by itself, each and every move we make has to be sustainable,” says Aristotelis.
At the end of 2015, we had 46 wholesale stores and 66 retail stores. At that point, we were given the chance to buy a retail chain called Veropoulos, which was a daring decision. But we did it, and that resulted in a wide network of 286 stores all over Greece, drastically changing our strategic position and simultaneously saving more than 4,300 jobs. We are still going through the crucial integration period, which is not an easy procedure.
Metro sees returns on investment in its in people
“Our employees have always been a strategic priority for Metro. They constitute the company’s driving force and have contributed to a large extent to the company’s success. Our goal is to secure a safe work environment for all members of the Metro family, building relations based on meritocracy and trust over time. Our actions prove that — we have kept the number of our employees and their wages intact during the entirety of the Greek economic crisis. In fact, the average store employee wage in our stores is 80 per cent above the minimum wages stipulated by the National Trade Collective Agreement,” Arsitotelis says.
The entrepreneurial spirit at Metro is a valuable asset to Greece
“Across the world, let alone in a country like Greece, entrepreneurship should be considered a keystone for development and growth — a benefit to society. This is a belief that goes above and beyond strategies, timetables, and fundamental measures of financial policies. It’s an attitude, a life stance, and a value system. In order to have entrepreneurial spirit, we must first, as a nation, decide that we really want it, that it is something positive and not detrimental to our society. I really hope that in Greece we will someday dare to want it!”