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Metro Plans Stronger Tie With Carphone to Speed Digital Growth

Metro AG plans to extend its relationship with Carphone Warehouse Group Plc as Germany’s biggest retailer hauls itself into the digital age.

A cooperation agreement that started with the companies selling mobile devices and contracts at Metro’s Media-Saturn outlets in the Netherlands is set to be extended to other Metro units and countries, the Dusseldorf-based company said today.

The extension of the relationship is an important step for Metro, which has been slow to embrace the digital revolution. Saturn stores only started selling online in Germany in October 2011 and the Media-Saturn electronics unit still made only about 4 percent of revenue from the Web last year.

“The connected world is a gigantic growth market and at the same time continues to rely heavily on personal sales advice,” said Pieter Haas, Metro’s management board member with responsibility for Media-Saturn and business innovation. “With Carphone Warehouse, we have found the perfect partner to pool our strengths in this important business segment.”

In addition to jointly selling mobile devices in tests at Media-Saturn’s Dutch outlets, the companies are carrying out trials at 17 of Metro’s Cash & Carry outlets in the country.

Besides selling smartphones and tablet PCs, the companies will provide contracts, accessories, services as well as installation, repairs and digital services, such as video and music, Metro said today.

The retailer plans to ramp up the fledgling online offering of electronics, which account for more than 30 percent of sales. Media-Saturn’s revenue gained 2 percent in the first quarter, boosted by an increase of more than 60 percent in online sales.

Carphone Warehouse, based in London, today reported little changed full-year profit of 58.1 million pounds ($89.3 million).

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