There is no point trying to sell Makro Cash & Carry UK at the moment because "it wouldn't fetch an attractive price", the boss of Metro Group has claimed.
The extraordinary admission from Dr Eckhard Cordes came as he confirmed he had no plans to sell the Metro-owned business, which reported pre-tax losses of £26.7m in the year to 31 December 2008.
The Metro Group CEO likened Makro to its equivalent in Germany Metro Cash & Carry which has revealed it is closing three depots and selling another because they are unprofitable. Makro closed three depots last year.
"The problem we've found in both countries is the non-food business, which we have to improve," he told Bloomberg.
Over the past few years, Makro had focused on driving food sales, introducing walk-in cold rooms and fresh fish departments. This had resulted in a 4.1% increase in food sales in the year to December 2008 the latest available results.
However, the focus on food had arguably come at the expense of non-food, admitted Cordes.
Makro UK CEO Hannes Floto insisted Cordes was nevertheless happy with Makro's performance. "It was a pleasure to welcome back Dr Cordes to the UK recently and show him the progress we've made evolving our business model towards becoming the first choice cash & carry wholesaler in the UK," he said.
"During his visit we discussed our plans for non-food and while this continues to present a challenge we are not alone. Dr Cordes has visited several competitors across Europe and he has only seen one whose operational excellence in non-food surpasses that of Makro."
Makro axes 150 jobs in battle to recover (12 June 2010)
Makro to roll out foodservice deliveries across entire estate (15 May 2010)