[German]How much does the cyber attack on the IT systems of the gastronomy wholesaler Metro affect store operations? Since last Monday, October 17, 2022, the Metro Group's IT infrastructure has been in serious troble, as far as its stores worldwide are concerned. These stores are offline from the groups central IT systems, merchandise management systems are not available, digital touchpoints are also offline. This could result in shelves in individual Metro stores no longer being able to be filled because the goods in question cannot be ordered.
According to my observations, Metro AG is currently finding it difficult to communicate the IT problem resulting from a cyber attack offensively. It is known that there have been massive problems with the IT infrastructure in Metro stores since Monday, October 17, 2022. The whole last week, the IT infrastructure was affected in all Metro Cash & Carry wholesale stores for food service purchases.
I had reported in the blog post Cyberattack on Metro or just IT problem? I reported on the IT problems at the Metro Group within my blog post Cyber attack on Metro AG or just a IT break down? Austria, France, German (and more countries?) affected. At that time, I only had specific reports from France and Austria, but I suspected that the incident applied to all Metro stores worldwide. This was confirmed to me by German blog readers from their own experience – there was reports of disruptions at the checkouts, for example. One reader informed me via Facebook about problems with the Metro Group's e-mail system, which had, however, been fixed in the course of the last week. An employee of a Metro store wrote in a comment:
Not only Austria and France are affected, but Metro AG worldwide. Also in Germany the same problem exists since last Monday. It is no longer possible to update or check any stock or prices in the store. The checkout system still works but also sluggishly, causing long lines.
If you want to reserve something digitally, that doesn't work either.
I am an employee of a store myself. That's why I see this every day when I'm there. A lot of sales go down the drain.
There are isolated reports from users that the situation has improved slightly over the course of the week, but it hasn't been completely resolved. In statements up to October 20, 2022, Metro spokespersons still denied that the problems had anything to do with a cyberattack – they said they definitely didn't know the cause.
Only in the course of October 20/21, 2022, there was the above reference on the Metro AG page to a cyber attack as the cause – I had addressed this in the blog post Confirmed: Metro Group victim of cyber attack. In the meantime I did not find this hint on the pages of Metro AG anymore (until Saturday it was still displayed when navigating on the pages).
Currently, however, German media such as invidis or heise are reporting that store operations in Metro wholesale stores are further restricted due to the IT problem. Indivis writes in today's article that electronic labels (ESL) on the shelves display outdated prices and reports unusable digital touchpoints. The stores are still offline after six days because the central IT systems have been encrypted by the cyber attack (a reference to a successful ransomware attack that Metro AG has not yet communicated as far as I know).
Currently, the stores are said to be without connection to merchandise management systems and other ERP functions. Employees would have to manually check the access authorization of customers against lists at the entrance. Purchases at Metro wholesale stores are only possible with the appropriate authorization.
But in my opinion, this is time-consuming and annoying, but not the biggest problem. The problem is the reordering of purchased goods, which are normally automatically reported to the merchandise management systems based on the cash register outgoing goods. This process has been completely down for days – invidis says that the automatic re-ordering of goods in the stores is no longer possible in an automated way. Employees have to find ways to order goods – but since the IT systems at headquarters are on strike, this is difficult. In other words: The whole supply chain is disrupted. There is a risk of empty shelves because goods have been sold off but not reordered.
There is also chaos with the digital price labeling (ESL) of the goods on the shelves. According to media reports, the connection to the relevant systems is also missing, so that the prices are not updated. It is no longer possible to briefly advertise an offer in the store via ESL – the offers are probably marked manually on the shelf.
In the meantime, the accounting department of Metro AG and the stores might have problems as well, because the invoicing of merchandise sales does not work. Invoice amounts can no longer be collected by direct debit – this is what is said here. The background is that the stores cannot determine whether the customers have exhausted the credit line. Cash payment or payment by card at the checkout terminals is necessary – a rather unusual procedure in the restaurant business, according to my observations. Cashier checks at the end of a shift also seem to be impossible.
The article is also an attempt to find out what the situation is currently like in German-speaking stores across Europe and whether there are any bottlenecks. Can the IT problems outlined in the Metro stores still be confirmed today, Monday, October 24, 2022? Or has operations returned to normal in the meantime – after all, IT had another weekend to fix the problem.
The case shows how dependent companies have become on a functioning IT infrastructure. The Metro Group has taken digitization quite far (there is no ESL in use at the consumer stores I frequent, but I see employees with tablets checking and reordering inventory). At the gastro-wholesaler Metro, this is rather difficult, also due to the turnover of goods, and digitalization is a great relief. But now the whole thing is hitting the company hard. How this case will affect the economic side of Metro AG, we will have to wait and see. But the incident is likely to have an impact on sales and profits in 2022.
Metro AG is a publicly traded group of wholesale companies. Headquartered in Düsseldorf, the group employs more than 95,000 people in 681 stores worldwide, most of them in Germany. In Germany, the company primarily operates the Metro wholesale stores. Sales are 24.8 billion euros (2020).
Cyber attack on Metro AG or just a IT break down? Austria, France, German (and more countries?) affected
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