ECONOMY

Smaller appliance retailers try to survive through mergers

The second part of the restructuring of the electrical appliances market is currently underway with efforts for mergers and acquisitions among the smaller companies as well as investment in networks by the bigger ones. There are also changes taking place in consumption models, services on offer and the lowering of prices for the consumer. All this comes with extensive and original campaigns that place emphasis on brand names, services and, especially, the lower prices, the main selling point in the face of a static and largely reserved consumer population. It also is an advantage for major retail groups which are redefining competition in the Greek market. The side effects of this activity are the strong demand for properties, as the major players in the sector have entered a race for securing locations with special exposure and high returns. In some cases this seems to lead to whole commercial markets shifting places, thus redrawing the broader commercial map of city centers. Feverish contacts are taking place offstage, aiming for the acquisition of isolated stores or small chains that will contribute to the development of the stronger ones. There are also efforts by some companies to survive under the burden of debts, facing the specter of bankruptcy. Sykaris is seeking a lifesaver, searching in all directions for any alliance options. Right now, the most important negotiations are taking place with Expert as well as another cooperative. One of the plans under examination concern the sale of some stores of the Sykaris network which will join the network of the buying company, while some other stores may close. The results of these efforts are expected soon. Images & Sound joined Expert two years ago, selling 40 percent of its share capital and passing to Expert’s network seven of its outlets that now operate under Expert’s name. The company will propose to its shareholders a share capital rise of 400,000 euros on June 20. The aim of the rise is the increase in the stake of businessman Constantinos Papadopoulos, who already controls 5.014 percent of Images & Sound and targets a stake in excess of 20 percent. With his entry in the company’s share capital, the entrepreneur from northern Greece is aiming both at the sanitization of the company and at strengthening his cooperation with Expert in the field of electrical appliances by providing know-how, so as to make sales grow, and cover its logistics needs. These issues will be discussed in the general meeting of shareholders next month. The bankrupt Radio Korassidis group is optimistic it will benefit from the relevant law, with developments expected within this month. The company recently received the assistance of a major supplier and representative of a well-known audiovisual appliances company. Seraphidis possesses a considerable market share in Thessaloniki and moves along a profitable course. Nevertheless, the plans for its further development include a possible alliance or merger with a major company. Piraeus Bank controls 35 percent of Seraphidis, though, and will demand more if a deal with the major company is to be reached. Meanwhile, the Kotsovolos group is promoting its multinational connection, that of leading pan-European group Dixons. Last month Kotsovolos opened a new megastore in Thessaloniki, with one more to open next month. Ilektroniki Athinon shows rapid growth rates proving that a Greek company can compete on equal terms with international giants such as MediaMarkt and Dixon’s. The company places emphasis on developing its network in Greece and abroad. It has already opened its new megastore in Attica and is now preparing its stores in Serbia. It is also the only electrical goods company remaining in the stock market and applies a generous dividend policy toward its shareholders. In this context shareholders will receive half a euro per share in the form of capital return. MediaMarkt is expected to open new stores in Attica and elsewhere. Parent company Metro will enhance its presence in Greece only through MediaMarkt and not its other subsidiary, Saturn, as originally announced.