NEWS

Commercial wealth gap grows

Small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly those based in the country’s main cities, have seen a considerable reduction in their turnover and profits even while bigger companies were enjoying better overall results, according to a survey made public yesterday. The annual report on Greek commerce, presented by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), refers to 2003, although ESEE representatives said it reflects a general trend that is expected to continue in coming years. Apart from highlighting the growing wealth gap in the world of commerce, the survey also established that approximately 60 percent of all goods on sale in Greece are imported – mostly from other European Union countries. According to ESEE’s figures, only 5.5 percent of the sector saw a steady increase in their turnover and profits in 2003. On the other hand, 44.1 percent of all small and medium-sized enterprises saw their sales figures fall during 2003 from 2002, while for 25.5 percent the figure remained stable. Some 50.7 percent declared a substantial drop in profits, while 65.6 percent were unable to engage in any investment activity. Matters were worse in Athens and Thessaloniki: While 52.2 percent registered a considerable drop in sales, 72.4 percent were unable to make any new investments. Bigger companies saw an overall rise of 8.8 percent in their sales, which totaled 58.5 billion euros in 2003 over 53.7 billion in 2002. At the same time, net profits soared from 1.66 to 2.22 million euros, and a total of 1.12 million euros was invested. A total of 748,300 people were employed in the retail and wholesale sector in 2003.