But there are also state-sponsored financing options, such as a loan from the KfW development bank. What makes you think that’s not enough, Michael?
Michael: Things move quickly in the food service industry and not everything can be anticipated, but as a business owner I have to be prepared to go into action: I receive a request at short notice for a catering event and have to pay for goods and personnel in advance; a kitchen appliance malfunctions and I need an immediate replacement or I won’t be able to keep the business up and running; or the month simply didn’t go so well, but I still have ongoing overhead costs that I have to cover. We intend to support our customers in situations that require short-term, flexible financial solutions with no red tape. This is an area where we can see that the existing offers are not yet specifically tailored to the needs of our customers.
And how does METRO’s role as a wholesaler fit into all of this?
Michael: First, there has always been a close connection between retail and finance, which is why we would like to integrate our financing solutions into the existing sales processes in the stores and the online business as a means of simplifying things for our customers. Second, we see METRO not just as a wholesaler that simply meets the demand for goods, but increasingly as a partner that strives to provide solutions for the food service industry. METRO is adopting a new strategic approach with ‘Wholesale 360’, and with GastroFinanz we intend to add financial services to our new range of offers.
We’ll start out with our financing offer. But over the medium term it’s our goal to support restaurant owners in achieving economic success by providing them with a tool that makes it easier for them to manage their businesses. This could be, for example, a simple overview of their current financial status, an estimate of upcoming tax payments or an assessment of potential savings in areas such as energy, insurance and telecommunications.
And what exactly distinguishes GastroFinanz from other financing services?
Michael: GastroFinanz is precisely tailored to the food service industry. We at METRO know the industry and customer needs like no one else in the market, and we enjoy a reputation as a reliable business partner thanks to our long-standing business relationships. And let’s not forget: we also have access to our customers. Through our established sales channels, including our stores, sales force, online channels and customer newsletters, we have an opportunity to inspire as many customers as possible with our range of products and services.
So restaurateurs have much better access to loans through GastroFinanz than through a bank. What’s the process behind this?
Michael: It’s basically very straightforward: they go to the gastrofinanz.de website and, after a few clicks, customers will be forwarded to a partner website, where they will receive a custom offer from one of our partners. But from late March, the credit application process will be directly handled by gastrofinanz.de. Customers will go through a simple, red tape-free process that takes about 30 minutes. Afterwards, they’ll receive an immediate response that indicates whether a loan has been granted or not. If the response is positive, the money will be transferred to their account within 24 hours. So it’s actually very simple and fits into each of our customers’ busy schedules.