international expansion plans German group Metro is considering taking its cash & carry operation to the US market as it ramps up its international expansion plans. Research teams are compiling a study of the market and management will decide whether to go in next year, said a spokesman. "We've always said, to be truly global, you have to be present in the three key markets of Europe, Asia and north America," he added. The international cash and carry business is the growth engine at Metro, generating 45% of the group's annual turnover and 46% of its profit. A raft of depot openings in major new markets including China and Russia is being followed next year with moves into Japan, India and Vietnam. Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are also on the radar, although the planned move into Egypt has been put on ice in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Like-for-like sales growth is also strong in mature markets as the group implements a major refurbishment programme ­ Market for the Future ­ to update depots in western Europe, said the spokesman. "For this type of market, where the leisure and foodservice sector is strong, we are developing formats specifically aimed at caterers and hoteliers." Metro is also popular with governments and small traders in underdeveloped markets as it is not stealing business from traditional stores, but supporting existing retail structures, he added. "That's why we are getting so much support, unlike some large hypermarket operators." The cash & carry business can roughly be divided into three formats: the classical depot, with 10-17,000 sq m of food and non food; the junior, a smaller version at 6-9,000 sq m; and the eco' format, at 3,500­6,000 sq m, focusing on fresh food. The latter format is particularly suitable for countries such as Portugal and Spain, with a bigger version being developed to suit the Japanese market. {{NEWS }}