Dimitris Katravas: Trust in the Greek market

01 Δεκεμβρίου 2014 | Investing in Greece
Interview with the CEO of ΜΕDIA SATURN GREECE




The retailers presence in the Greek market, the trust of the multinational parent company and the largest investment of a German business group in our country in the recent years.

What is Media Saturn footprint in the Greek economy?
Media Saturn is active in Greece with the brand Media Markt. We are present in the domestic market since 2005 and now our network counts about 10 large physical stores in conjunction with our online store. We employ approximately 900 Greek employees, actively supporting the Greek economy, paying of course the employer contributions and taxes as we should. In terms of sales, Media Markt is at the time a strong number two in the Greek retail market for electrical appliances and electronics. Also I want to stress out that we are steadily increasing our market share in the last three years.



How did the difficult economic conditions the country is experiencing in the last years, affect both the retail sector and Media Saturns presence in Greece?
Undoubtedly, the difficult times experienced by both Greek economy as a whole and our industry in recent years has affected our own path. In this context, the most important challenge that we have had to deal with regarding the economic situation in the country was to focus on one of our two brands. We chose to focus on Media Markt and decided in late 2011 to complete the activation of the Saturn brand in the Greek market, while empowering the Media Markt network at the same time.

One of the strategic objectives we set then was to make the brand Media Markt even stronger so as not to weaken our presence as Media Saturn in Greece. Our efforts focused on maintaining the market share that Media Markt and Saturn combined had. This is something that we have succeeded. Today our market share is higher than those of the era when both brands coexisted in the Greek market.

As part of these changes, in 2013 the multinational parent company showed its confidence in the Greek subsidiary enhancing a significant increase in share capital. Can you give us some details?
Under the conditions prevailing in recent years in the Greek market, it would be unrealistic to believe that we could move to profitability so soon. Therefore, our aim was to significantly reduce the damage so that we could get the necessary support from Germany and have the opportunity to reinvest when the economy stabilized. We managed to do it. Clear proof of this is the confidence of our parent company, which was demonstrated, as you mentioned, with the increase of the share capital held in 2013 and 2014 that in total reaches 74 million euro.

We must highlight that the specific share capital increase is the largest German investment in Greece in recent years, at a time when German companies generally seem to hesitate to proceed in investment activity in our country. The recent announced investments in Greece come mainly from companies outside Europe. The trust, therefore, of our mother company is really important. The fact that a German Group chooses to strengthen its presence in Greece during the years of crisis in such a significant degree, is certainly not negligible.

Also, let's not forget that from the beginning of our presence in Greece we have invested several hundred million euros in the country including the recent substantial investment in the field of e-commerce.

Are you planning other investments in Greece in the near future?
At this time we evaluate the evolution of the Greek economy and our market and we definitely look at the possibilities that might exist for the expansion of our network. There is not a specific decision that we can announce yet. In the forthcoming months we will be able to say more.

What we are mainly evaluating now is where we should have presence if we choose to invest in the expansion of our network, based on our existing network and any blank spots. The size of our stores is also being examined. In relation to our starting years in Greece, the group has now presented smaller format stores in other countries, ranging in 1,500-2,000 s.m.

What is your prediction for the recovery effort in the domestic economy?
The most optimistic forecasts predict stabilization for 2014 while the most pessimistic predict small deterioration. We surely expect recovery in 2015. Currently there is a sense of optimism, but it will take time until it can lead to the improvement of the lives of Greek people and hence the return of consumption. Of course, times have changed. Judging from our own market, the figures we mentioned for 2008 "hid" in them excessive financing from banks.

The last year we certainly witnessed a violent rationalization. I believe, however, that there will be some balance. We may not return to the sizes of the past, but we will certainly experience much better days than today. On the other hand, of course there are things that need to be addressed and bureaucratic barriers that must stop to exist in order for a company to invest more.