ECONOMY

Sony Hellas eyes greater share in Greece, Balkan expansion

Costas Balafoutas, general manager of Sony Hellas, speaks to Kathimerini about the company’s future plans, including the launch of new products. How would you sum up 2002, going by the statistics on the electronic products market so far? The sector this year showed a slight recovery, returning to the high level of 2000. The growth in the Greek economy, the setting-up of new distribution channels and investment in infrastructure related to the 2004 Olympic Games took the market to a higher level, compared with 2001. What is Sony Hellas’s market share in the various product categories? Our market share in the audiovisual sector is about 40 percent, nearly twice Sony’s share in Western Europe. We lead in all products in Greece; for example, in video cameras, we have 70 percent of the market, together with 40 percent in TV and 30 percent in hi-fi equipment. In computer screens, we are the first, with a market share of 17 percent. How are sales of Playstation 2 going after the debut of (Microsoft’s) Xbox? In video games, we have a 70 percent market share. Sales of Playstation 2 are expected to exceed 80,000 this year and we expect a higher figure next year. From what I see, one Xbox is sold for every four Playstations sold. Which of the new products have shown strong growth and why? A lot of our products have shown strong growth – our projectors, for example, due to the development of corporate presentation and home cinema, our flat TV screens for the home, our digital cameras and our video conference systems. Why has Sony Hellas not got into the portable computer market? We are not distancing ourselves from this sector. We are just going slowly in Europe. In September next year, we will launch the VAIO line of notebooks in Greece, which has been very successful in the rest of Europe. How much have the price war and competition from retail chains affected the company? The retail chains are going through difficult times. They are now taking measures to cut losing investments. As a market leader, we feel it’s our obligation to help retailers, since a healthy sector will work to Sony’s long-term benefit. How does Greece compare with the Western European consumer model and buying habits? The Greek consumer is very close to the Western European model. His knowledge is increasing, thanks to the mass media, which lays a strong emphasis on technology. What are Sony Hellas’s future plans? Despite our leading position in the Greek market, we believe there is room for further growth. We have the products for the construction of infrastructure for the Olympic Games. We also plan to help the company build infrastructure in neighboring Balkan countries, with Sony Hellas becoming the hub for southeastern Europe.