ECONOMY

Security services look set to flourish following their successful contribution to the Olympics

Security companies are blossoming in Greece since the successful staging of the Olympic Games, which created new prospects for security guard services, transportation of money and valuable items, and electronic security systems, a survey by the business research company ICAP has shown. Market professionals agree that Greek security companies’ participation in a safe Olympics last summer contributed in recognizing their role and strengthening the trust of companies and individuals. Furthermore, their involvement in the Games brought more know-how and better infrastructure and more quality services for security companies, although economically the Olympics did little for the domestic security market, benefiting just a few firms. Sector experts suggest there are about 1,000 security companies in Greece, but only two-thirds of them have an operating license, according to the 1997 law. The biggest security companies have a network of exclusive affiliates across Greece. There are generally cooperations between companies for the best possible geographical coverage of the market and the provision of a broader range of services. In some cases, these cooperations evolve into mergers or absorptions. Many such companies involved in security service provision are also into importing and selling electronic security systems such as alarms and closed-circuit television. They also undertake the study of spaces to be guarded, the installation and after-sales service, and the monitoring of those systems through their signal reception center. Demand for security services is affected by growth in business activity and the completion and operation of large public works and infrastructure projects, combined with the trend to concede certain corporate activities to third parties. Demand can also depend on crime levels that generate a sense of insecurity. The survey showed that the total value of the local industry of private security service companies grew in the 1998-2004 period by an annual rate of 26 percent. In 2004 it posted a 23.4 percent rise compared to 2003. The bulk of the market is covered by guard services, accounting for 72.4 percent of it in 2004. This domain rose in value by 23.1 percent annually on average in the 1999-2004 period. At the same time the transportation of money and other valuables rose by an average 19.4 percent annually. Finally, the electronic security systems market recorded the greatest rise, growing by 34.6 percent every year in that period, taking up a 16.6 percent share of the total market in 2004. The sector mainly moves by the requirements of the business world for the security of installations, making private companies the sector’s most important client category. The state has a smaller share in security services, while individuals use them less frequently. Industry observers note that according to existing trends the domestic market of security services will keep rising in the 2005-2006 period at an annual rate of 15 percent. Helping the sector’s growth will be cash management services in the money transportation domain, with the creation of money-processing centers at the cash tills of supermarkets, stores, public corporations, banks and such.