Interview with Inga Engels: “Retail equals change”

Nagel-Group’s sales team has been expanded to include the Vertical Retail division with the recruitment of Inga Engels. The former native of Düsseldorf has left METRO after more than 15 years to take on the role of Head of Vertical Retail. Her industry knowledge from the food trade in particular is the perfect foundation for her new area of responsibility. She is certainly no stranger to industry trends and challenges.


Nachhaltigkeit ist ein großes Thema, das gegenwärtig in allen gesellschaftlichen, wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Bereichen im Fokus steht. Welche Berührungspunkte sehen Sie besonders für die Lebensmittellogistik?

Retail equals change – this is a wide-ranging maxim that I have experienced for myself in my 15 years in retail. Retail has been in a continuous process of change for decades – as has wholesale – and Corona has accelerated this in the last 18 months. E-commerce, artificial intelligence, neo-ecology and product individualisation as a result of the availability of personalised data are just some of the levers that will influence the next few years.

Digitalisation and sustainability are core topics that will have an impact on the entire retail sector in the future and is something that both retail and food logistics need to face up to. The sort of questions that need to be looked at are: What challenges do our customers face? How can we work creatively with them but also play an active part in shaping these changes? If we support our customers in their quest for success, we are also successful as a service provider.
As well as these issues, we will continue to address the existing operational challenges that procurement logistics continues to face and which are exacerbated by the current shortage of skilled labour.

Sustainability is a major topic that is currently high on the agenda of all social, economic and societal areas. What are the touch points that you see for food logistics in particular?

Sustainability is a broad topic. In the field of logistics, of course, it’s also about reducing CO2 emissions – for example through e-mobility – but also about working conditions, renewable energies, animal welfare, zero waste and other topics relevant to a sustainable supply chain. Nagel-Group has a wealth of expertise and resources with its many years of experience in food logistics and its recently founded Sustainability Committee. This will be invaluable in focusing on dealing with new industry topics, in developing new approaches to solutions and thus also in facing up to the challenges sustainability brings.

Digitalisation is a hot topic in almost all sectors of the economy. In what form will digitalisation continue to make itself felt in retail and thus also in retail logistics?

Omnichannel will continue to play a central role in food retailing in the coming years. Retailers have to decide how and where to offer their products and how these channels can be best interconnected. The choice of retailer, shopping location or delivery service is increasingly becoming a lifestyle statement for consumers. Product, price and service transparency on the net mean that retailers have to position and profile themselves much more differently than they did 15 years ago. On top of this challenge, there are many other opportunities and risks that are being driven by digitalisation.

There is a wide range of current projects that will influence our supply chains in the course of digitalisation. For example, the “digital delivery note”, in which Nagel-Group is already participating, the “AI-supported sales forecast” or the opportunity to optimise cloud-based delivery processes, to name but a few.

Other topics deal more with the producer side, such as the possibility of producing food via 3D printing. Interesting issues will arise here, especially in the plant-based food sector in the area of meat substitutes, which will transform the industry.

What will you be dealing with centrally at Nagel-Group in the future?

Shaping the topics of the future from the onset and paving the way for new developments for retail is an exciting process that will keep our Vertical busy for the next few years. It is an enormous advantage that Nagel-Group has a great deal of expertise and is so open to change. Harnessing these strengths means we can jointly determine which topics can be established in future and which will not need further consideration. This can have an immense learning effect, which will benefit customers in finding solutions.

The retail sector will react to changes in consumer needs, and this will change the demands put on us as transport and logistics partners. In Vertical Retail, we want to actively embrace this process and, if possible, help shape it. This puts us in a position to identify trends at an early stage and prepare the company for change. It also gives us the opportunity to think about completely new fields of business.


Inga Engels already had extensive contacts within the increasingly complex industry network from her experience at Metro AG. She is therefore eagerly anticipating the upcoming Anuga, where there will be new trends and impulses in the food sector to be experienced up close and a wealth of inspiration to be gained.