ECONOMY

Atlantic buckles under recession

One of Greece’s medium-sized supermarkets, Atlantic, filed for protection from creditors yesterday, the latest retail victim of the deepening recession. Atlantic, which employs about 3,700 people, had been denying since the start of the year that it was in financial straits but then finally admitted yesterday to needing help to manage its debts. «This step is necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the company and continue cost reductions along with adapting liquidity savings measures aimed at implementing the growth program,» Atlantic said a bourse filing. With debts of 308 million euros, the company showed a 2.9-million-euro loss in the first quarter of the year, versus a 2.4-million-euro loss for the same period a year earlier. Its shares, which have fallen 73 percent over the last six months, will continue to trade on the Athens stock exchange but under supervision from bourse authorities for limited hours during each session. Atlantic is the latest retailer to buckle under the weight of the recession, which has entered its second consecutive year. Last week, sources said French retailer FNAC will shut down its three-branch network in Greece after operating in the domestic market for five years. In November, FNAC launched its third store in Monastiraki for 3.5 million euros. Atlantic’s economic problems have been building over time. Apart from consumers slashing spending to get through the tough times, Atlantic’s aggressive expansion into a market dominated by large multinationals and great amounts of money owed by wholesale customers have hurt its financial position. Company sources said the supermarket had been making attempts to tidy up its finances since the start of the year by crossing slow-paying customers off its client list and boosting the efficiency of its network. Atlantic is believed to be offering some of its larger creditors one or more of its stores in order to reduce debt levels as it seeks a potential buyer to take over the entire supermarket chain.