Lahore School of Economics

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Understanding and managing people

Marek Minkiewicz, MD of Metro Cash and Carry visited Lahore School of Economics on 28 February and 29 April 2019 to give talks to Lahore School MBA program, Marek noted at the outset that retail is all about people – suppliers, customers, staff: Metro has around 2000 employees now in Pakistan and some 9 stores with some 50 billion rupees of sales. It was thus very important to understand and manage people.


He then explained in detail the history of Metro in Pakistan. In 2005 Makro partnered with the House of Habib in Pakistan whereas Metro decided to do it alone in Pakistan. In 2009 in line with the trend in Holland of divestiture Makro decided to wrap up in Pakistan. Eventually there was a merger of Makro and Metro.

It was so easy to pin the blame on: the law and order situation, or on time food delivery or on suppliers etc. But I said no, this is not the reason why we were in loss. Pakistan has a large middle class – at 10% it means 20 million customers in urban areas. It had 9 Metros and 6 Carrefours – in the much smaller Holland there weare 30 Makros and 60 Carrefours. I thought the reason was internal. It has to be explained by people. In fact at that time we had two computer systems and screens: One for Makro and one for Metro.

Market took over in 2015 and refused to blame anything on the traditional favorites such as culture or law and order etc. He first of all set upon reducing visible and avoidable costs by for example selling huge cars which he could not justify. He also looked in detail at why the company was in loss and how it could improve its revenues. He also ensured that all reporting people were taken out and only finance would report.

The next phase was the of right-sizing. He decided to reduce the Headquarters from 230 to 160. He looked at Japan, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan and benchmarked Pakistan to them according to variables such as stores and sales. Departments were benchmarked to departments. The exercise was carried out successfully.

Last year we turned the corner and became profitable.

What did Metro offer to the newcomers? Marek believed the biggest motivation he could offer to those who wanted to work at Metro was a flat hierarchy which meant faster and bigger responsibility, and a fast growing industry.

Marek also advised the students on managing their bosses.

He also discussed how he obtained information by visiting stores, by talking to the employees, and by looking around. One could also get information from the right friends.

The students discussed with him the challenge posted by the onslaught of the digital based retail to Metro.

Both sessions were very well received by the students who asked Marek a large number of questions about the human side of an organization.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 5/27/2019 10:34:00 AM,

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