ECONOMY

Autogrill pledges to expand its restaurant services for travelers

Italian highway service company Autogrill is here to stay even after the economic crisis, a top-level official tells Kathimerini in an exclusive interview. Giorgio Minardi, chief executive officer of Autogrill Europe, came to Athens as his firm continues its expansion through investment in Greece and he does not rule out the possibility of some buyouts too. Minardi told Kathimerini that Greece was the first move for Autogrill beyond Italian borders in 1997 and the company is planning to increase its presence in this country with five new points. «Today we have a strong presence at Athens International Airport and on the national highways, which we will enhance with two new outlets at the airport with the Puro Gusto brand, one at Spathovouni outside Corinth and two at Leptokarya in Pieria. If there are similar opportunities in 2011 we will continue our investments,» he said. Asked why Autogrill has chosen to invest in a country that is deep in financial crisis, Minardi is quite clear: «The crisis will pass just like many other things, and we have suffered from its consequences, too. But we will continue to invest. We are not here for just one year. We have been here for several years already and intend to be here after the crisis, too.» Autogrill’s interest in this country does not appear to be diminished by the red tape that other entrepreneurs see as an obstacle: «When you decide to come to Greece for a long-term investment, you know you will run into difficulties every day and you learn to handle them. The problem is when you come for a little time,» Minardi replied. He went on to suggest that the best way to deal with the ongoing crisis is for «major corporations and companies like ours to send the right signals, stay close to the people who work for them. This year we will hire another 150 people, which illustrates that we are determined to stick to what we do and what we have promised.»