French retail chain in Greece

«Access to culture» is the motto at Fnac, the French retail chain expected to enter the Greek market with a flagship store in the Maroussi area in November. In a meeting with the local press at the French Embassy in Athens last week, company president Denis Olivennes outlined Fnac’s identity. «The company was founded 50 years ago, but really developed in the last 30 years,» Olivennes said. «Its founders did not stem from traditional commerce and their aim was for culture and cultural goods not to be aimed at a minority, but to be accessible to all. Fnac shelves carry books, CDs, DVDs, computer accessories and other electronic devices for the broad public. It is the wealth of supply which makes it so successful.» Olivennes confessed to an emphasis on commercial book titles, for instance, but said he won’t neglect other categories. Books and CDs make up 50 percent of Fnac outlets’ turnover. With an annual turnover of 4 million euros, Fnac has 18,000 employees in 100 outlets in 18 countries, which stretch from Taiwan to Brazil, but it is mainly concentrated in Europe. The company is confident that Greece’s economic development has enough muscle to support three to four outlets in Athens and two to three in Thessaloniki, with a flagship store scheduled to open its doors near the Nerantziotissa metro station in Maroussi. One of the chain’s chief qualities is its experienced, well-informed and helpful staff. At last week’s meeting, Olivennes used a phrase often used by Fnac’s founding father: «We’d rather lose a sale now and gain a customer later on.» Greek Fnac stores will be staffed by Greeks, with French supervisors. Medium-sized Fnac stores – like the one which will operate in Maroussi – carry about 60,000 products. For those who say the company’s style of operation resembles that of supermarkets, Olivennes offered this response: «90 percent of those visiting supermarkets make purchases. Most people visiting our stores just stroll around and only 30 percent end up buying,» he said. Besides buying and selling, Fnac’s Greek stores – similar to sister outlets – will host cultural events such as concerts and book and author presentations. «The Greek public will be attracted by the gamut of our products,» he said. Will Olivennes’s «temple of consumption» affect the business of central bookstores, music and electronic stores? Time will tell.