Exporting companies see slight rebound in orders

By Mary Lembessi and Dimitra Manifava

The first smiles are starting to appear on the faces of certain businesspeople after a long time, particularly in sectors involved in export activity.

The political stability that has emerged after the formation of a coalition government in June has gone some way toward restoring foreign clients? confidence in Greek enterprises, while within Greece it has allayed consumer fears, at least for now.

The business community considers that the next few weeks will be crucial as some vastly important decisions regarding the Greek economy?s course will be made during this period.

The small improvement was first registered in July, in an economic climate survey by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Surveys (IOBE). The Economic Climate Index rebounded in July by two points to 76.1 points thanks to an improvement in business expectations, mainly in retail commerce and construction, as well as an increase in consumer confidence for the fifth month in a row.

Greece is gradually regaining its position among the clientele of major foreign companies for the production of high-quality garments and its firms? rapid response to tight deadlines.

Yiannis Lavrentiadis, director general of the C.Lavrentiadis export company, says some notable momentum is expected in the second half of the year, as July and August signaled an increase in orders, while some foreign clients are already sending repeat orders. His company produces children?s clothes for a major multinational apparel company and has production plants in northern Greece and in Bulgaria.

According to Lavrentiadis, the main factors that will determine the further expansion of Greek companies? activities are continuing domestic political stability and a steady euro-dollar exchange rate.

Sofia Yiarli holds a similar view. Her company, Meltemi Fashion, produces men?s and women?s clothes for major brands in the apparel sector, mostly in Germany. The firm is expected to show a turnover increase of about 50 percent this year compared with 2011 thanks to the increase in demand for clothes production in the period that followed the June elections.

Nevertheless this rise was due to the major slowdown in the flow of orders for about four months due to the uncertainty that reigned in Grece at the time. The company maintains production plants in northern Greece and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the garments are sewn.

In the food sector, sales are declining by 3 to 7 percent, but all major chains are gradually adjusting to the times in order to stabilize the flow of payments to suppliers. The food industry is offsetting its losses with its exports to dynamic markets such as Russia, China and the Middle East.