The steady drop in consumer spending combined with the problems in the market resulting from the crumbling of the Marinopoulos supermarket chain a year ago continues to hurt suppliers.
IRI researchers have found that Greek supermarkets’ total sales declined 6.5 percent on an annual basis in 2016. This year they are expected to shrink an additional 2.3 percent and in 2018 another 1.5 percent.
Several suppliers, mainly small businesses, are on the brink of bankruptcy after 50 percent of Marinopoulos’s debts to them were written off. Federation of Hellenic Food Industries (SEVT) officials say some of those companies could be forced to close.
The same risk may not be visible among major groups, but their financial results have been significantly affected by the write-offs, as well as by the drop in sales as their products were not available at the biggest retail network in Greece for many months.
Official survey data on the course of the retail market since the start of last year show that the worst quarters were the first and the second of 2016, with 7.9 percent and 9.4 percent year-on-year declines respectively. That is mainly attributed to the problems Marinopoulos faced that led to its filing for bankruptcy in June 2016.
In the year to mid-June 2017, sales continued to decline at a 2.3 percent yearly rate, which is expected to continue for the rest of this year. Figures now include the old Marinopoulos supermarkets that as of March 1 belong to the Sklavenitis chain.
This year is a period of transition for retailers: Next year there will be a clearer picture as to whether Sklavenitis has met the challenge of absorbing Marinopoulos successfully, while no one can rule out a further concentration in the sector, as the chain reaction that started with Marinopoulos a year ago is far from over.
Data so far have shown that Marinopoulos’s downfall has mostly benefited the AB Vassilopoulos and Lidl Hellas chains across Greece, while Sklavenitis and Masoutis have enjoyed local gains in Athens and Thessaloniki respectively.