Vassilis Fourlis: Taking the next step forward with insight and knowledge
The pandemic brought us face to face with a very difficult situation. After a protracted period of extreme economic conditions, we confronted an unprecedented health crisis, as well as a two-month lockdown, which has left a very powerful imprint on business operations. Throughout this period, retail was seriously challenged.
At the Fourlis Group, we took all the necessary measures from very early on to ensure the safety of our employees, but also of the visitors to our brick-and-mortar stores. We secured healthy liquidity for all our companies, with the management of our suppliers and cash. The next axis was cost management, mainly rent and staffing. Both expenditure categories have been addressed with the help of government amendments in all countries where we operate. However, above all, we have intensified our efforts and presence in e-commerce. Our already strong presence in e-commerce has been further reinforced with new platforms in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Cyprus.
With the entirety of physical stores in all retail sectors closed, consumers turned to online stores. This upward trend though in no way filled the gap of brick-and-mortar stores. Retail trade and consumption are the largest part of the economy. We started the post-lockdown era better than we expected. In the immediate future, with the opening of borders and the resumption of tourism, we will take a first test step, and at the same time, a crucial one, toward the future. It is the step that will determine how far and how fast we can move forward.
The market and sales remain in a delicate balance between the right choices, objective conditions, but also the psychology of consumers. Various degrees of caution and fear define the behavior of many consumers. The danger, unfortunately, is still here. And the slightest increase in insecurity can limit consumers to the absolutely essentials in terms of travel and shopping.
Another crucial factor, which is too early to assess, concerns the financial potential of the consumer public. In the long run we will know if the disposable income of consumers has been impacted and to what extent. To a large degree this will depend on the course of the health data, at all levels.
The fiscal program that the state will pursue will be catalytic in the effort to support the economy, save jobs and, by extension, boost disposable income.
The European Union’s financial support in conjunction with the domestic growth package must be distributed in such a way so that healthy businesses are strengthened and jobs are maintained. The criteria must be forward-looking and growth-oriented. With horizontal innovative perception that will invest in the prospects of digital society and the European Green Agreement. With courage and a vision for everything that constitutes a modern market, aimed at modern and well-informed consumers.
LET’S LEAVE THE NEGATIVES BEHIND
After 10 years of financial crisis, we are certainly wiser and more experienced. Greek companies have acquired the insight and all the knowledge needed to handle difficult situations. It is up to us to keep the positives, to leave the negatives behind and look the next challenge in the eye.
Let’s remember the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Turnover (2019): € 466.321.979
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