Andreas Athanassopoulos: The investment in the Greek market is a strategic decision

01 Δεκεμβρίου 2014 | Investing in Greece




The course in Greek market of the leader in the retail sector of electrical and electronics, its contribution to society and the forecasts for the future

Despite the adverse economic environment, Kotsovolos has posted a positive economic course. Could you give us a specific picture of the company’s finances in terms of turnover, profitability, market shares, manpower and branch network?
Given the conditions prevailing in the market in recent years, our course has been indeed satisfactory. Of course there is still much to be done to come out from the crisis as an industry and as an economy or to reverse consumer confidence with a view to generating a positive impact on the market. Our financial year ended in April and practically we can say that we had a dramatic improvement in the final financial results, while maintaining our positive earnings before taxes and before depreciation.
In our times this performance is worth mentioning. Moreover, the company had overall positive impression of the results, increasing the percentage of new customers and the percentage of young clients.
Finally, last year we had the best performance of all time in scoring customer satisfaction (NSAT) measured daily to sample of our customers, through an independent research firm. I should also emphasize the fact that we are the first chain in the market with a share of over 24%. Our team consists of 1800 employees across the country while our network holds 98 stores and of course our online shop



Which is the investment volume accomplished in the Greek market the last few years concerning the expansion of your network, the launch of sophisticated services and the upgrade of your stores? Have you paved the way for your next moves?  
We have strategically chosen to persist and invest in the Greek market addressing decisively the ongoing recession. Since 2008 we have allocated more than €25 million to upgrade our branch network. In addition, we have focused our efforts and our investments on our becoming better to the benefit of our customers with special emphasis on their experience and holistic service throughout the whole range of products they choose. In this context, we renovate or transfer our existing stores to new, modern premises so as to showcase our products and help our customers in their choices. In 2014 we have already invested in over 10 stores through relocations, as we did in Serres, through the launch of new ones such as the 2nd store in Heraklion, Crete or through radical renovations.
We also gradually grow our network by seeking new franchise partnerships, so as to provide more consumers with access to the service experience we offer. Many of our efforts have focused on customer service and management through our integrated service system, Support 360°, and the various benefits it provides to cover every need. Ranging from comprehensive coverage to deliveries, phone service, maintenance, installations, repairs and upgrades we are always Next To the customer. This is why we have developed a large sophisticated repair center in Magoula, Attica and many Support 360° service points in our stores, where skilled and experienced technicians are employed. Finally I could not help but refer to the importance we place on online purchases, with our online store being radically updated in the past year, resulting in being even more user friendly, offering a wide variety of product categories, much more information content and unique opportunities. Our desire is to keep on towards this direction and this entails our investing in new developments and quality customer service.

You dedicate a substantial part of your investments to support the Greek society. Through which actions do you stand by the vulnerable groups?  
In Kotsovolos we have grouped the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives under the banner “Acting”. It is the corporate responsibility platform of the company, relied on 4 key pillars, designed to support Society, Market, Human and Environment. Part of Acting is the “Good Deeds Day”, the largest annual coordinated effort of corporate volunteering of Kotsovolos, involving about 800 volunteers, who plan and carry out charitable activities in their local community. In addition, we regularly strengthen various causes and our three main social partners.

Concerning “The Smile of the Child” we every now and then collect food and other consumables whilst every year during the winter sales we double the money raised in the organization's piggy banks. We often make product grants to the “Ark of the World”, we have fully equipped one of the hostels of the organization in Piraeus while in autumn we collect school supplies and consumables to cover the children’s needs.

Finally, through our technology products we contribute to fulfill the wishes of “Make a Wish Greece” while we support the organization’s effort through a series of other actions, such as the Christmas decoration of our stores with “Wishing on a star” and our volunteers’ participation in various initiatives.

What is your comment on the course of the Greek economy? Could we be optimistic about its recovery?
I often say that, at this time, the Greek economy is in the process of “recovering” after having undergone a huge shock in recent years. This does not mean that all the difficult days belong to the past. We all have to redefine ourselves within a new environment but this is not necessarily bad. We need to work systematically and with zest to regain some things such as market and public confidence.

I also believe that it's time to capitalize on factors such as technology, which for a long time we have not exploited and which certainly can contribute to the faster and more substantial progress of what everyone has in mind when hearing the word “recovery'”. We still have a lot to do, yet I think we have currently got on the right track.