Strategic segment Schwarz Group invests in IT

von Manfred Stockburger
Montag, 11. Mai 2020
The Schwarz Group is investing in the cloud business.
Hans Jürgen Schulz
The Schwarz Group is investing in the cloud business.
German retail giant Schwarz Group is working flat out to develop its IT division into a strategic business area. Following the example of Amazon, the group intends to offer IT services to external customers. The recent acquisition of the software specialist Camao IDC ensures the necessary know-how for this.

Despite the current Corona crisis, Gerd Chrzanowski, the designated successor of company boss Klaus Gehrig, is pushing ahead with the digitalization strategy of the Schwarz Group, owner of Lidl and Kaufland. The takeover of Heilbronn-based Camao IDC GmbH, completed on May 1, brings 70 specialists into the company. The deal secures "resources in an important area of digitalization," explains IT Director Christian Müller - namely in the cloud business. Retail giant Amazon has also built up a lucrative additional business in this field.

"As the technological backbone of the Schwarz Group, we are consistently expanding the capacities of the IT organization," explains Müller. Siemens and Telekom are also among the customers of the new holding - and even the Rewe Group. The company will continue to operate under the Camao brand and will continue to serve external customers.

Growth across the value chain

IT is thereby turning into a strategic business area. Similar to the management of recycling, the Schwarz Group is growing out of its core business along the value chain. Chrzanowski is considered as the driver of the diversification. Just over two months ago, it was announced that the 48-year-old would succeed Gehrig at the helm of the group. However, he will remain responsible for strategically important future areas such as IT, production and recycling management.

As Head of Strategy & Business Management, Stefan Herold (52) and his team are to launch IT services into the market. Herold has only been in office since March but brings with him two decades of IT experience at Lidl and Kaufland. The first applications, such as the "Two Go" app, which was taken over from SAP and enables groups to organize carpools for employees, are already running on the new platform. It is said to be used by numerous large external companies.

Gerd Chrzanowski
Schwarz Gruppe
Gerd Chrzanowski

The base for the business is Schwarz IT, in which more than 3,000 employees operate 20,000 servers for the group. "The Corona crisis accelerates digitization," says a Schwarz spokesperson: When the virus caused home offices to be set up for tens of thousands of employees, IT handled a tenfold increase in mobile workstations. Five-digit access numbers are possible without any problems.

If necessary, additional data center capacity is to be createdThe

The Schwarz Group's Cloud wants to score points with the data protection location Europe. However, there are critical voices in the industry as to whether this can be achieved: High investments and the low prices of competitors like Amazon are cited as risk factors.

In addition to the existing data centres, the Schwarz Group is planning further locations, including a data centre with 10,000 square meters. The retail powerhouse remains silent about the costs of such projects. Industry experts put them in the three-digit million range.

IT campus continues

The Neckarsulm-based company is working on the architectural framework for the IT future. 5,000 specialists are to develop new technologies in the neighbouring town of Bad Friedrichshall. The first construction phase is to provide space for 3,500 employees by the end of 2025. Work on the project campus continues as planned despite the corona.

This text was originally published in German and machine-translated into English.

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