Aristotelis Panteliadis: Darwinism at work in the business world
The human species owes its very existence to an endless chain of random genetic changes, some of which occurred because they helped living organisms adapt better to their environment. Sudden changes in that environment acted as accelerators for developments and resulted in new, evolved organs, adjusted better to the new needs.
The same applies to the business world: New tactics are constantly being tested, and those that help the survival and growth of an enterprise are encoded in its DNA. A pandemic which abruptly and drastically reverses the consumer behavior pattern requires immediate adjustments. It forces evolution. If we can adopt those adjustments now, we will achieve within a few months what could otherwise have taken years. We will be better. We will evolve. We will survive.
WE RESPONDED WELL AND QUICKLY
The virus, the fear it caused and the ensuing lockdown have brought huge changes to food retailing. In Greece we have responded well and fast, as citizens, as consumers and as enterprises. The domestic food industry immediately increased its output, logistics services made the impossible happen, and supermarkets responded admirably. Even the governmental mechanism exceeded itself – not always successfully, but admittedly with resolve and a genuine will for cooperation.
We weren’t the only ones to perform many small miracles during the Covid crisis, but I will mention certain indicative figures from my company: Over 10,000 METRO workers at the My market and METRO Cash & Carry stores and distribution centers worked very hard, putting their own needs aside, and despite their justified worries concerning their own health, managed to meet the soaring demand during the first few weeks.
Whenever there was a case of Covid, the store in question was disinfected on the same day and reopened the day after, staffed by a team of employees from other stores, while all employees of the store self-quarantined at home for two weeks.
We applied all safety protocols, often more strictly than the law dictated, with full cooperation on the part of our customers. From the outset we asked workers belonging to vulnerable groups to stay at home, paying them their regular salary and without getting any state subsidy. We also hired 600 new employees to help out with our increased workload. We more than doubled the staff at our e-shop, boosting performance, while we cooperated with new distributors and introduced a new “click-and-pick” process in less than a month.
But why should I mention all that, now we are all concerned about the future? Because everything we have achieved all together is actually the recipe: our sense of honor, our resilience and our adaptability have been the keys to our success. Our optimism, determination and confidence to overcome difficulties, served as the necessary elements.
We need to be ready to change, to try, to fail and make corrections, to take risks and to dare, to innovate and to use the exceptional brains we have in Greece, to trust young people and allow them to act freely, to believe in our country – and, of course, we need our country to believe in us. Without overlooking the fact that the state ought to assist entrepreneurship and help financially those who were hurt by the restriction measures, we as entrepreneurs should think what we can do ourselves for our corporations.
If we continue on the right path we have taken in the last few months, Greece will emerge stronger from this adventure.
COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Since 1976, METRO S.A. has supported Greek entrepreneurship and the national economy. With two chains (My market and METRO Cash & Carry), it has more than 275 stores. It employs about 11,000 workers and is one of the biggest job providers in the country.