Between February 26, the day the first coronavirus case was reported in our country, and March 22, when the government announced the coronavirus curfew, we had plenty to think about, and even more to do.
We knew that we had to support and be part of the collective effort. We had to take measures to shield public safety with our first concern being our clients, employees, and suppliers. We had to ensure the smooth supply, reassure consumers for the adequacy of our products, and adapt to the new consumer habits. We also had to increase our e-shop capability, as the requests for home delivery had been tripled – 300% increase. Finally, we had to organize and implement a work-from-home system for a large proportion of our employees.
While, at the same time, we had to rise to the occasion and support the Greek people; we had to help the public healthcare system and the most valuable among us. Toward that end, we donated a state-of-the-art equipment package, which integrated Artificial Intelligence technologies, and it was one of the first ones to be installed in the country that can fully support more than 30 ICU beds. The total donation of €494.000 has bolstered the National Healthcare System in a way that could be crucial for our fellow men. At the same time, we dispensed €500,000 to municipalities across the country through the ‘Help at Home’ initiative.
We made it! To make it, though, we had to work collectively and selflessly. And we wouldn’t be able to achieve all these without the contribution of our 14,550 employees and the 1,100 new hires. I want to take this opportunity and publicly say ‘thank you’ to all our employees and clients, who respected and continue to follow the instructions and measures taken to ensure the safety of everyone in our stores.
The pandemic brought with it major changes in our lives, and of course, in our everyday life. We’ve witnessed significant changes in consumer behavior, with a shift towards healthy products, home-cooked meals (the new ‘eating out’), and Greek products. We follow these trends, and we take them into account, because some of them ensued from the changes in our way of life, and some of them are here to stay. It is certain that the economy will take a hit. But, the magnitude of it, we will know in the last quarter of the year. The recession is foreseen to be between 5-10%, with our sector to be less affected, as we provide necessary and essential products. For 2020, I estimate that the forecasts for more than 2% growth in the retail industry’s total turnover will be shown to be true. And this conclusion is the result of the generally accepted reasoning that the significant benefit of the industry in the first half of the year will balance the possible losses in the second half.
Every business must evolve. And that’s what we do. The pandemic made us implement major changes, find innovative solutions, and search for new ways to meet our customers’ needs. We’ve learned to be adaptable and move forward with our vision and strategy as our guides. We do not want to simply follow the changes. We’ve learned to lead, and that’s what we do now. The pandemic has given us a legacy of experiences. It is known now that AB Vassilopoulos stands for safety, stability, and growth in the Greek economy. We won the battle with the pandemic, and now, we implement our development plan; a plan that will benefit everyone: our clients, partners, employees, manufacturers, and the Greek economy in its totality.
THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Sector: Food Retail
Employees: 14.550 (2019)
Turnover 2018: € 1,986,336,000
Earnings before taxes: € 54.006.000 (2018)