February 26, 2024

Metro boss Eric La Flèche has “a bit” the impression that he’s taking part in the function of scapegoat within the scorching inflation problem, which he finds unfair.

• Additionally learn: Quebecers have managed to beat meals inflation, says Metro boss

• Additionally learn: The worth of nutrient-dense staple meals rises 25% in two years

• Additionally learn: Metro earnings rise greater than 26%

“We’re the final hyperlink in a protracted chain. There are value will increase all through the chain and we’re the final in entrance of the client, so it’s a bit regular that we swap to money,” Mr. La Flèche stated in an interview with the Journal this week.

Months of intense criticism are lastly taking their toll, admits the 61-year-old chief.

“It’s not simple. We do our greatest, we work arduous, we attempt to serve our prospects nicely. As retailers, we don’t profit from inflation. […] We do what we have now to do as a accountable firm, however that features good administration and producing a sure stage of revenue that we take into account applicable.”

He gave nothing to Champagne

Eric La Flèche subsequently promised Federal Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne nothing new when he summoned the “barons” of grocery store chains to Ottawa in September.

What is the cost of carbon in a liter of

“We didn’t want any further effort from the minister,” says Mr La Flèche. We attempt arduous each day. […] We’re dedicated to persevering with to do the whole lot we are able to to ship worth to our prospects.”


Eric La Flèche in Ottawa, in September. Photograph Anne-Caroline Desplanques

For months, particularly initially of the pandemic, it was nearly unimaginable for meals retailers to refuse value will increase from suppliers, argues Eric La Flèche, who themselves had been dealing with a value explosion.

“There may be nonetheless stress [inflationniste] within the system, says Mr. La Flèche. It’s much less and we attempt to persuade our suppliers as greatest we are able to that our prospects are up so far [pour ce qui est de] the power to soak up [de nouvelles hausses des] Finish shopper value. We’re on the finish. The worth will increase that suppliers ask us should be affordable as a result of we can’t cross them on.”

Larger margins at Jean Coutu

If Metro’s revenue margins have elevated in latest months, it’s primarily as a consequence of “greater margin beauty merchandise” bought at Jean Coutu, owned by the Montreal firm since 2018, argues the CEO.

“Our grocery gross margin percentages are flat or declining,” he repeats to anybody who will pay attention.


Metro CEO Eric La Flèche on the firm’s new automated distribution middle in Terrebonne. Photograph company QMI, JOEL LEMAY

In response to the value rise, shoppers flocked to low-cost manufacturers. Metro adopted the wave and opened three new Tremendous C branches final yr, whereas Metro solely opened one. Nonetheless, imitating Loblaws, which has transformed numerous Provigo services into Maxi, is out of the query.

“Over time, may some metros be transformed to Tremendous C? We’ll see, however there is no such thing as a mass motion. Metro is a wholesome model,” says Eric La Flèche.

In Quebec, the corporate presently has 197 Metro supermarkets, 103 Tremendous C shops and 386 Jean Coutu pharmacies.

Metro CEO about…

Automated checkouts

“I’ve compassion, it’s not simple. It’s a studying expertise for patrons and workers. It’s fairly a problem, however we’re getting higher at it. The client will get used to it over time and will get higher. […] If we need to present a service… There’s a scarcity of employees, it is rather troublesome to recruit workers because of the scarcity of employees. It helped us lots to maintain the client pleased – with some frustrations. However the buyer likes that higher than a protracted wait.”

Govt compensation

“We may do with out it, I inform you [de la controverse sur les bonis versés aux cadres de Metro]. However we’re not in any respect embarrassed by our compensation at Metro. We’re a giant firm, we have now $20 billion in gross sales and $1 billion in earnings. We’re the biggest non-public employer in Quebec [avec plus de 65 000 salariés]. You need to have a proficient staff. We pay folks aggressive salaries.”

New acquisitions

“The swap is on. […] Once they come up, we attempt to determine if it’s proper for us. We’ve a great steadiness sheet [financier]a great staff and if acquisitions come up, we hope to have the ability to make them.

The headquarters in Quebec

“We’re a listed firm with out a majority shareholder and are subsequently all the time topic to a proposal [d’achat] unprompted. It may occur, however as we have now been saying for years, good outcomes are the perfect protection. The worth of our actions […] shouldn’t be a reduction for anybody […] We’re not on the market in any respect. We need to proceed to develop.”

Are you able to share details about this story?

Write to us or name us straight at 1 800-63SCOOP.