Paul Kiortsis: We see the optimistic side of the difficulties

01 Δεκεμβρίου 2014 | Investing in Greece




While domestic production already represents 60% of the annual turnover of Nestlé Hellas, the company plans new investments and implements other significant actions to support Greek society.

In which way has Nestlé Hellas left its imprint on the domestic economy? How many production units does it operate in Greece and how many people does it employ? Which are its aggregates?
Nestlé boasts a long history in Greece, as the company's products have been marketed in our country since 1899, while its domestic production activity started in 1974, with the most advanced dairy unit having been constructed in Plati, Imathia.



Today we are talking about a global business structure that operates in ten different categories of products and employs over 1000 people on a permanent basis. It is mainly the staff working at the headquarters and in the company's factories in Greece, such as the coffee factory in Inofyta, Boeotia, where the Greek coffee Loumidis Papagalos and the packaging of Nescafé Classic are produced, the ice cream factory of Nestlé (Boss, Magnum, Nirvana, Alona) in Tavros, Attica and the Korpi factory, in Monastiraki, Vonitsa in Aetolia-Acarnania, where the natural mineral water Korpi is produced.

This figure is significant and attaches much more importance, considering that this major administrative and production structure supports a much larger network of hundreds of suppliers with Nestlé being a key customer. It should also be noted that a significant proportion of the production activity concerns the exports to Cyprus, Albania and other markets as well as the exports of the Greek coffee Loumidis Papagalos and the water Korpi to the Greek communities worldwide. Also, by virtue of the great innovations in ice cream, our exports are intended for markets in the rest of Europe.

As far as the aggregates are concerned, the turnover of Nestlé Hellas for 2013 amounted to 407 million euros, with a net profit of 22 million euros.

What is the turnover rate of Nestlé Hellas associated with products generated in Greece? Are there any considerations concerning its increase?
Domestic production plays an important role in our business in Greece, accounting for 60% of the annual turnover. Our goal is to develop products of high nutritional value that correspond to the needs of the Greek family and the more we achieve it through domestic products, the more the rate increases. This is a big challenge for Greece today. Besides, despite the overall drop in consumption in recent years, we have managed to remain competitive.

We are proud of our plants and products generated in them, a conviction reinforced by the growing interest in exports to other markets. The multinational structure of Nestlé Group is an important asset that allows us to bring the Greek products to Greeks abroad and to anyone interested in getting to know them. Simultaneously, our innovations have gained the preference of other markets, which every now and then choose our own production units concerning the development of their products and their production. We are mostly relied on these two components to enhance where possible our production activity in Greece.

The last three years, the company implemented investments in our country exceeding €30 million. What exactly did they involve?
At Nestlé we have chosen to face the difficulties from the optimistic point of view. We see crisis as an  opportunity; it’s the time for laying the foundations for our future growth. Besides, our long-term strategy has been one of the main reasons for the Group’s success and growth in the last 150 years.

Let me share an example related to our financial results. In 2012, although we had a small increase in our annual turnover, there was also a decrease in profit compared to the previous year. This discrepancy is due to the significant investments performed, which targeted at upgrading our production units and also at renewing the range and identity of our brands and products so that they would respond efficiently to the new era.

What is it incorporated in your investment plan for 2014?
Once more, we will move on the same axis, that of investing in factories, products, brands and our people. The central axis is the investment of €3.6 million in the coffee factory in Inofyta, targeting at renewing the Greek coffee pack Loumidis Papagalos and our overall mobilization concerning the pan-European initiative for youth employment “Nestlé needs YOUth”.

In November 2013, the company announced in Athens the pan-European initiative “Nestlé needs YOUth”, which provides for the creation of 500 job opportunities for young people aged under 30 until the end of 2016. How has this initiative been developed so far and how do you plan to enhance it?
Attracting and developing young people is something that we know to perform very well in Nestlé for many decades. But the issue of youth unemployment is currently plaguing Europe to the point of threatening the future of the new and promising generation. Hence, we decided to proceed with our first coordinated effort for youth employment, which launches 20,000 jobs and internships opportunities at pan-European level, as well as tips on how to write a good resume and perform a successful job interview but it also establishes our cooperation with suppliers in order to create a broader network of partners that will help these young people to find a job.

The goal of 500 new jobs within the next three years in Greece may sound rather ambitious considering the size of the market, yet it has been based on a prediction on specific actions designed specifically for this purpose: to create opportunities for employment with actions that will have entrepreneurial prospect and therefore can be repeated and have sustainable character. Some of these actions have already been applied, while others are going to be launched in the immediate future. Just to mention indicatively that in the first half of 2014 we made 108 new recruitments, we provided internships to 39 youngsters and conducted more than 20 CV clinics for interview and application coaching.

Equally important, however, is that in our endeavor, both the state programs and our suppliers have been our “fellow-travelers”, as 9 of them have already rushed into supporting this important initiative through their own contribution. And we keep on!

What is your estimate about the domestic market for 2014? Do you presume that we are getting close to recovery?
The experience derived from previous years does not favor predictions. Nevertheless, mobilization, volunteering, solidarity and restrained optimism as well as fresh business ideas that emerge through various programs are positive signs that Greece will soon rediscover the road towards economic health and development.