The objective of METRO GROUP's strategy is generating long-range, sustainable growth. First and foremost, our aim is to improve like-for-like sales and earnings. We are also boosting our performance strength and appeal by optimising our cost position and cash flow, improving our margins and reducing our net debt. The prerequisite for METRO GROUP's long-range sustainable growth is our persistent focus on creating value for our customers. Five focal points guide us in this work: transform, grow, improve, expand and innovate. They provide the strategic framework for our business activities and lend a shared direction to our group across all sales lines and companies.
Our customers' needs and expectations form the starting point for all our strategic considerations. Which product ranges do they need in their local stores? Can we offer new services to pique the interest of consumers or professional customers in our business models? Which sales channels do we have to develop to meet our customers' increasing demands? Using these questions as our starting point, we have already made significant strides in the areas of multichannel, delivery, franchising and own brands. In this and other areas, we are rigorously forging ahead
with the strategic repositioning of our sales lines.
Our second focal point is growth in all business segments. We intend to achieve this first and foremost by improving sales per square metre of selling space in existing stores. An absolute focus on the customer and engaging in socially and environmentally responsible business practices are crucial to this effort. We also aim to significantly improve customer satisfaction. To raise our appeal to private and professional customers, we are making targeted investments in new services. In addition, we are selectively adjusting our sales lines' price levels to further bolster their competitive positions. Finally, we are realigning our incentive systems for employees to encourage additional productivity enhancements.
A company's competitiveness depends as much on its process performance as on an attractive product and service offering. Our objective is to create streamlined, effective organizational structures. For this reason, we have to continually examine our processes, systematically review our country portfolio and improve our cost structure. In this way, we can improve our cash flow and create headroom for additional investments.
Efficient processes, optimised cash flow and sales growth with stable or improved earnings represent the foundation for our further expansion outside our home market of Germany. After all, our mission is to invest in a business model that is customer-oriented, competitive and sustainable. Many countries in which METRO GROUP is active offer excellent opportunities for enhancing our footprint. We are currently focusing our expansion and are seizing new opportunities: by opening new stores in such countries as China, Russia, Turkey and India as well as by enhancing our offering in all other countries.
Creating added value for customers means responding to changing requirements early on or even shaping this change by recognising technological, societal and consumer trends, by identifying their potential relevance to our own business and by devising specific solutions such as optimised processes or new sales concepts. This work begins by firmly anchoring business innovation within our company structure as well as defining innovation focal points that are relevant to our customers and hold growth potential. The key is cultivating a structured network with internal and external experts. This approach forms the foundation of our innovation management.