An economic powerhouse – a retail and tourism group as large as the REWE Group may be given such a label every now and then. We are more than happy to accept the responsibility that this entails. However, as a Group we take on a much more pragmatic approach in our daily business. Having economic power means we have the power to get things done.
We supply our customers more than 50 million times a week in Germany alone. We are a partner for tens of thousands of suppliers. We are responsible for around 384,000 employees, with more than 280,000 of them in Germany. What is it that makes us so strong? What shapes us and differentiates us from so many other companies? We were founded in 1927 as a cooperative, whose values and identity as a cooperative still shape us today. We draw strength from within. We have proven this daily in recent years.
A year ago, a war on European soil shook us to the core. This sudden aggression occurred in a Europe that was exhausted and struggling to regain a sense of hope after enduring two years of pandemic. We also wanted to return to a sense of normalcy. But once again, it was time to roll up our sleeves and fully commit to the challenges. The high inflation that is a major concern for many of our customers, soaring energy prices, the complex interdependencies of our economic system, the challenge of procuring everyday products that we aim to provide on a reliable and low-cost basis.
How did we respond to these challenges? We had and will continue to engage in difficult negotiations, address conflicts, and develop the best solutions to supply the people of Germany and Europe with affordable food products. This has been our mission for nearly a century and we take it very seriously. In 2022, for example, we set aside hundreds of millions of euros to stabilise retail prices for our customers, thus deliberately forgoing revenues. As a result, year-on-year profits were down and the prices for our products have risen. Over the past year, inflation amounted to just over seven percent in REWE supermarkets, while the average rate of food inflation in Germany was 13.4 percent in 2022. However, since the start of this year alone, we have reduced the price of some 900 items and have taken every opportunity to stabilise retail prices for our customers.
We chose this path very deliberately. We were able to do so because we are a cooperative, because our owners are retailers and they understand the realities of everyday life. And because we are Europe’s second largest tourism group, we managed to make it through the pandemic on our own – even though tourism more or less collapsed overnight. We built this strength by reinvesting almost all of our profits into the company – for the benefit of our customers, retailers, and employees.
Being an economic powerhouse for us also means we stand up for our customers, suppliers, and employees daily, fight for sustainability, drive innovation with our start-up mentality, and serve as a genuine force for good – because thousands of people visit our stores and travel agencies every day. We are European, diverse, multicultural, inclusive, socially conscious and above all else: strong together.