To ensure the quality and safety of its products, REWE Group has introduced a comprehensive, cross-stage quality assurance system that extends along the entire value chain in its core business of trade. The system comprises such preventive measures as the preparation of product guidelines, systematic issue monitoring, controls, audits and consumer tips about the proper way to use products at home. A system of key performance indicators introduced in 2010 makes compliance with legal and company quality standards more measurable and transparent. The key performance indicators, including the results of internal microbiological analyses or rates of complaints, are prepared every six months, evaluated and presented in the management report of REWE Group’s quality management.
A special focal point of quality management is store-brand products: The combine defines special requirements for the products and suppliers to meet in all steps along the value chain – from raw materials and recipes to labelling and packaging. These specifications form the basis for regular spot checks conducted by independent accredited testing institutes. The spot checks are determined on the basis of supplier and product risk. Foods like fresh fruit and vegetables are tested more frequently than products like salt and sugar. For fruit and vegetables, the combine has an annual Status Report on Chemical Pesticides prepared for Germany. The reports have been compiled and released by the Austrian environmental organisation GLOBAL 2000 since 2009.
In addition to the products themselves, other links in the value chain are examined: All store brand suppliers in the food area must be certified according to the internationally recognised standard IFS Food or the standard of the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Furthermore, REWE Group conducts additional supplier audits on the basis of a risk analysis. This involves evaluating a number of key performance indicators like dissatisfaction with products, customer complaints and the risk classification of the product group. Manufacturers and suppliers who fail to meet REWE Group’s quality standards are asked to remedy the situation. Otherwise, they face the possibility of being delisted.
Annual audits of the company’s warehouses are conducted by internal auditors as well as by independent external organisations. All areas of the warehouse are included in these audits, from goods receipt to transport to stores. In addition, special audits that focus on the implementation of quality guidelines for fruit and vegetables are conducted in warehouses.
Regular internal and external inspections are also conducted in REWE Group’s food stores. The external inspections are conducted on the basis of checklists prepared by QS GmbH, Bonn. The lists focus on meat, meat products, fruit, vegetables and potatoes. Products made in REWE stores themselves, including ground meat (at the service counter) or fruit and convenience products, are subject to microbiological monitoring. These samples are examined by independent laboratories.
The Department of Crisis and Safety Management at DER Touristik is responsible for traveller well-being in emergency situations. During crises like natural disasters, accidents or terrorist attacks, Help Teams go into action. The specially trained team members take care of the safety of and provisions for travellers and employees at the particular site. They provide support to individuals and organise transportation to hospitals, alternative hotels and return trips to home if necessary. To quickly reach mission locations, the Help Teams are based at a number of different places, including Bangkok, Miami and Costa Rica.
The crisis and safety management office is based at the headquarters of DER Touristik in Frankfurt. As part of crisis-prevention work, employees there monitor developments in travel regions around the clock. If one of the team’s early-warning systems raises an alarm, steps can be quickly taken to manage the crisis. These steps include crisis hotlines for direct contact with affected individuals and close working relationships with destination agencies, government authorities, airlines and airports. Another focus is creating an up-to-date and qualified flow of information for all affected individuals and the general public.
Continuous advanced training of relevant employees is another important aspect of crisis management. This involves training for Help Team members and for employees of travel agencies. The training programme won the Willy Scharnow Award for innovative advanced training concepts in 2009. In 2016, the programme comprised 27 crisis and safety training courses that were developed individually for sales. In 2017, the programme was expanded to include training on the duty to maintain public safety as well as safety for agencies and travel guides in the destination areas. Crisis management work involved 469 crisis events in 2017 – 110 fewer than the previous year. As planned, the number of Help Team members increased in the reporting period from 72 to 116.
As part of its quality management, REWE Group systematically conducts health and safety audits through the entire product life cycle.
|Health and safety audits (absolute Figures)||2015||2016||2017|
|Independent product tests (own brands)||39,267||43,274||45,077|
|External warehouse audits||71||92||91|
|External store audits||3,371||3,433||3,152|
|Tests of products made in stores||6,251||8,149||8,566|
|Total number of audits||49,369||55,394||57,351|
All figures apply to REWE Group in Germany. In addition, the results are reviewed by external control organisations (IFS, QS GmbH, etc.).
Nine public recalls involving store-brand products occurred in 2017. The cause of three recalls was one incorrect or incomplete declaration because a wrong label was used; two articles had a missing allergen label. Two recalls were due to a colour deviation in milk and a flavour deviation in cola, whilst two further recalls were triggered by microbiological deviations. In two cases, products were contaminated.
The public recalls carried out were individual cases. No trends among product groups or suppliers could be found. In every case, customers were able to return the product in the stores and get their money back.