Update from the 12th Annual ECR Hellas (Greece) Conference “Tightrope Walking to Growth”.

On the 17th of May 2017, ECR Hellas organized the 12th Annual Conference in Athens “Tightrope Walking to Growth”.

This year’s Conference focused on the disruptive changes and innovations that occurred on various business sectors such as retail, consumer, human resources, technology, etc. during the recent tough years. Furthermore, we aimed to explore pathways the companies could follow to respond efficiently to evolving consumer needs as well as the emerging market trends. 

More than 500 delegates participated representing all the major Super Market chains, Supplying and Manufacturing firms of the country as well as Logistics companies, IT providers and business consultants.

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The conference sessions include:

Senior Political speakers

Kostis Hatzidakis, Vice President of New Democracy, who was in charge for the party’s program, spoke about the “prolonged paralysis of the economy”. For Mr. Hatzidakis “there is only one way to develop and this is the support of the entrepreneurship and investment.

Greek Entrepreneurship: Building Growth

Of particular interest were the data provided by Grant Thornton (GT) concerning the development of Greek Entrepreneurship in recent years. According to company’s report over 8,000 companies from 92 different business sectors sectors were monitored. This report clearly illustrates 48 business sectors managed to increase their turnover by 5% in 2015, while 46 business sectors  had a turnover decrease of 11%. Referring to 2016, GT estimates that we have a marginal increase in sales. Additionally,  5 out of 10 businesses had sales growth in 2015, while 2 out of 5 had, along with sales growth, a simultaneous increase in profits. In 2016 the listed companies managed to double overall profitability, resulting in the gap between problematic and healthy businesses. The report also shows that the major problem remains ρευστότητα των επιχειρήσεων as 1 in 4 companies have a working capital deficit while 6 out of 10 listed face the same problem. At the same time, economic uncertainty remains the main problem for more than 90% of businesses, but there is general optimism for the future as far as the employment and profitability is concerned.

ShopperHood Study

MRB Hellas presented the results of the SuperHood Study. Following the successful launch of the first ShopperHood Study, ECR Hellas carried out a second round in 2016. This study aimed to record the evolution of ShopperHood typologies and elicit any likely differences, trace key indices implications and delineate actionable insights. According to the study, the changes that have taken place since 2015 in the Greek market such as capital controls, local retailers’ acquitions etc. had a strong impact on shoppers’ behavior. There is a need for both brands and retailers to move from a customer-centric to human-centric environment. The Greek Shopper today acts in a rather unfavorable way for retailers & suppliers. He is very well prepared, always has a list when he visits a super market and he has almost no interest for the brands. He cares only for the product category and selects mainly those which are in offer. Moreover, he visits the super markets 9 times per month and he spends 26.5 Euros per visit while in 2015 we had 10 visits per month and a spending of 28 Euros per visit. The study highlighted that the brands and the experience during the shopper trip should regain their lost glamor while the supermarkets should become again a joyful destination.

Re- engaging our Human Capital  

Barbara Panagopoulou, Human Resources Director Heineken, underlined the need for businesses to envisage the future changes and to embrace them positively. In such way companies will be able to identify all the possible opportunities in a changing environment. Redefining the relationship with their human resources through a well-built structure, leadership skills development, and a healthy working place is the guarantee for successful business growth in the future.

Business Extroversion & Consolidation

Eftichios Vassilakis, Vice President of Aegean Airlines, the best regional airline in Europe for 2016 referred to the value of business extroversion which can lead to growth during the crisis.

Logistics Pooling

Xavier Hua, General Manager of the Institut du Commerce France, analyzed the concept of Logistics Pooling (or Shared Logistics) and its value in the business function. Particularly, Mr. Hua presented the expected benefits of a logistic pooling procedure as well as how a company a relative project.

The logistic pooling project in France has resulted in a 40% reduction in costs, a 50% reduction in inventory and a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The Greek project on Shared Logistics has presented by the Athens University of Business & Economics as well as companies that participated in the project. New distribution co-operation model creates two opportunities: horizontal co-distribution (as expressed by Nestle-Barilla collaboration) and the use of an urban consolidation center (as expressed by AB Vassilopoulos and METRO). As far as the Nestlé – Barilla’s cooperation is concerned, the main finding is  that shared logistics could operate in Greece, a proper culture is needed, which can deliver significant results on routes, truckloads, CO2 emissions and transport costs, but pointed out that its enemy is the complexity and time needed to change the culture. The pilot collaboration of AB Vassilopoulos and METRO, pointed out its negative signs (increase of operating cost in the first phase, additional risk of disasters) and proposing solutions (large scale application, technology development and use of environmentally friendly methods).

Startup Entreprenership

Apostolos Apostolakis, VentureFriends Partner described the Greek startups as an “antidote to the crisis” on the ground that the technology has the potential to induce large scale alternations to all economic sectors. He stressed that the crisis has delayed the technological evolution in Greece although many young people develop their ideas. A successful startup as Taxibeat, work as an example for many young entrepreneurs or investors.

The agricultural sector in times of crisis

Christos Stamatis, CEO of Stevia Hellas Coop, talked about the development of the Stevia Hellas Cooperative which cultivate and produce stevia and stevia products exported to Europe. He outlined the three main pillars of agricultural development which are collaboration and synergies, technology and a qualitative end product.

Dr. Athanasios Tsavataris, Academic Dean of the Perrotis College of the American Farm School of Thessaloniki who spoke about the current developments in the fields of Genomics and their impact on agricultural production, nutrition and health.


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