BUSINESS

Retail commerce map changing radically due to crisis

By Mary Lembessi

The prolonged recession is radically changing the Greek retail commerce map, as the fall months are revealing the problems enterprises are experiencing in facing the new conditions.

The definitive freeze of talks between the Fokas Group and Attica department stores has left the former out in the cold, increasing uncertainty about its future.

Sources say that the management at Fokas has reached a dead end regarding the administration of the group?s high borrowing as it is unable to buy new merchandise or pay its staff.

In any case, the last few weeks of the year will be crucial for the sustainability of the decades-old retail group.

The Sprider Stores group has also found itself in a very difficult position, as the decline in turnover and the increase in losses continued in the third quarter of the year. The aim of the group?s new management is the restructuring of the chain, although cash flow problems are mounting. Kathimerini understands that the management of the listed company has in the last year and a half turned to domestic suppliers too in order to secure flexibility in its payments. It is also going ahead with the closure of another 10 stores across the country by the end of they year, while revising its presence in Bulgaria, where it has five stores, including the one pictured in Sofia.

The shrinking of purchasing power is leading to changes in the wholesale market as well. US firm Guess is searching for a new partner in Greece after terminating its contract with Promoda SA. The reason for the termination, according to the Greek side, was the excessive requirements the Americans had regarding targets and network expansion in spite of the adverse market conditions.

However, another version of events suggests that the Americans has been in contact with a well-known group since early this summer and examining the possibility of a cooperation. What is certain now is the closure of Guess stores in Greece in the coming weeks.

In the furniture sector, the Yalco group is planning to shut down the Habitat outlet in Glyfada, southern Athens, by the end of the year, thereby reducing the presence of the chain to just two points: the Notos Home department store at Kotzia Square in central Athens and the Hondos Center store in Thessaloniki city center.

Fellow furniture enterprise Neoset is going through hard times: Its general director, Aris Topouzas, who has been a company executive for many years, has departed and has not yet been replaced. The firm registered a decline in turnover of 13 percent and a rise in losses by 81 percent last year compared with 2010.

Rival company Dromeas is in talks to have its borrowing refinanced; its loans add up to 24 million euros.

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