German supermarket chain Rewe to soup-up its online business with startup incubator

Nina Fowler 2013-04-15 7

Rewe

German supermarket giant Rewe wants to soup-up its online business activities – and intends to open a startup incubator as part of that plan.

Speaking to Germany’s Wirtschafts Woche, Rewe CEO Alain Caparros (left) conceded the group had underestimated the importance of online business development. As part of wider plans, “we want to build a kind of incubator for startup companies within the coming months,” he revealed (translated from German).

The group will also expand its existing online grocery delivery service from Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt to include Munich.

The group intends to run the expanded online sector as a separate business division.

Supermarkets and startups – a good mix?

The Rewe Group, which also includes discount chain Penny, “hyperstore” Toom and tourism portal DER Reiseburo, employs 327,600 people and operates over 15,000 stores in Germany and wider Europe. In 2012, the group made a record €49.7 billion in sales – up from €48.4 billion in 2011.

It’s far from the only German corporate giant to open a startup incubator or accelerator programme. Others who’ve launched programmes in the last year include Deutsche Telekom, Axel Springer, ProSiebenSat.1 and Deutsche Post (through its subsidiary target advertising platform Nugg.ad). 

Bayer Healthcare is also setting up new programme Grants4Apps to help fund healthcare apps – we understand it will go live in the next few weeks. 

It’s hard to say if the Rewe incubator project is a great idea or a terrible one without knowing what it will look like. Whatever it is, the supermarket will have to work hard to convince skeptics it’s not just jumping on the startup bandwagon.

Image credits: via Rewe Group

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