ECONOMY

John Karagiannis: Take advantage of the momentum, invest in innovation

john-karagiannis-take-advantage-of-the-momentum-invest-in-innovation

OLYMPIA GROUP

The pandemic served for everyone as a “time machine,” which landed us in a new era. In terms of our activity in Greece, we have expe­­rienced great changes, while our telecommunications company PLAY in Poland has been a lot less affected. Public-MediaMarkt was faced with a major challenge: In just a few days a twenty-fold increase occurred in the volume of online orders compared to the previous period. The aim of Public-MediaMarkt is to establish its leading position in ecommerce and be supported by the best logistics systems and technologies that will give it a head start. That’s why our subsidiary proceeds to significant investments in ecommerce and is revising part of its investment plan in physical stores. For SUNLIGHT the timing has been critical. Whilst we had reached a level of 3-shift production, we suddenly saw new orders freezing and falling to -70%. All similar factories abroad found themselves in the same situation and many of our customers ceased their activity. We consider it crucial how the 2nd half of the year will develop, while our estimates show a full recovery in 2-3 years. These developments came at a sensitive time for SUNLIGHT, as the company had just bounced back from the 2018 fire at its unit in Xanthi. Nevertheless, we have decided to continue our investments, while our main concern remains the safeguarding of the existing jobs.

DIGITALIZATION ON THE FOREFRONT

Responding to the new needs, the companies of the Olympia Group in Greece are focusing on digitalization. Public-MediaMarkt, aiming to be number one in ecommerce, is in the process of internal transformation. It has partnered with international consultants and has appointed executives with great knowledge in ecommerce and logistics to its Board of Directors, while the entire team is working at full speed in this direction. The company is dynamically investing in new ecommerce, data management and logistics technologies, while its marketplace platform will grow dynamically. We, on our part as Olympia, will invest in start-ups on new technologies in energy and ecommerce, for which we will act as an incubator. On the other hand, SUNLIGHT, for the past two years has been emphasizing on its technological transformation, aiming at being one of the companies that will play an important role in the evolution of energy storage technologies worldwide. We are already looking for 50 scientists, whom we want to repatriate, thus contributing also to the country’s “brain-gain,” for the new research centre on energy storage technologies that we are establishing in Athens, Greece. The sectors that SUNLIGHT deals with have a great potential for development internationally and that is why our team focuses on areas where it has comparative advantages, such as batteries for forklift trucks, being number two worldwide. At the same time, through the new research centre, we are investing in batteries for automatic robots (AGVs) used in international logistics centres, as well as in lithium batteries for sectors such as electric buses and shipping, while we are also investing in energy storage for renewable energy sources. Finally, our plan to develop the new unit in America continues dynamically, while we are examining an expansion with subsidiaries in the European markets.

THE COUNTRY’S
NEW POSITIVE MOMENTUM

The image of Greece that has successfully managed the health crisis is creating a wave of credibility that we need to capitalize on. We can use this momentum to boost entrepreneurship and attract investment and human resources. At the same time, there are sectors such as e-mobility and alternative forms of energy, where Greece can lead at pan-European level. The pandemic was a crash test for all of us and the path is now open to adopt an innovation-based development model.