Germanos to remain a force

Most branches outside Greece of electronics retailer Germanos will remain under the listed group’s control after the deal, announced Friday, for the sale of a major stake to leading cellular network Cosmote. The agreement does not include some 400 branches in Ukraine, Poland and Cyprus. Most of them (340) are in the rapidly growing Polish market, garnering the Germanos group revenues of 110 million euros and profits of 2.2 million last year. The two companies have reportedly agreed on the transfer to Cosmote of Germanos branches in the countries where the mobile operator has a presence, i.e. Bulgaria (77 stores in end-2005), Romania (103) the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (23) and Greece (340). The Germanos group will also maintain its industrial batteries sector, known by the brand name Sunlight, as Cosmote’s parent company, OTE Telecom, is not interested in producing batteries for torpedoes. The country’s main telecom network intends mainly to strengthen its retail network in Greece and the Balkan countries. Cosmote’s rival networks, Vodafone and TIM Hellas, have recently tried to distance themselves from the Germanos chain by developing their own retail networks and will probably have to invest more money in them now. It will be even worse for the alternative telecom providers who relied on Germanos for their sales and will now need to find other ways of reaching consumers. One way out for them could be another company owned by chief shareholder Panos Germanos, the Multirama retail chain, which now appears particularly ambitious. For all of 2006, it is expected to show revenues of 100 million euros, while it is already expanding into the Balkans. Germanos is also projected to hold on to Public, a company that develops large stores with products and services related to entertainment. It aims to have four such stores by the end of next year.