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"My Market" flourishes in times of recession

12 July 2013 / 23:07:23  GRReporter
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Victoria Mindova

Economic growth and development in times of recession are possible and the activity of "Metro Group" which manages the wholesale shop "Metro Cash & Carry" and the supermarkets "My Market" in Greece proves this. Mariana Papadopoulou, Marketing Manager of the company, told GRReporter the secret of the success of a company that needs to develop and grow in a country that has lost 25% of its GDP over the past six years and in which the income of consumers has declined by one-third and the unemployment rate exceeds 26%.

"The company has always been very careful in its actions. We have never embarked on sudden decisions such as to increase the number of shops by eighty or a hundred new commercial sites in a short period of time. That policy was considered too conservative in the years before the crisis but it is paying off today," states Papadopoulou.

She explains that when the economic crisis began, the company had no debts to lenders, suppliers or the government. This means that, with the worsening of the economic situation in the country, the corporation had no open accounts to drag the business into bankruptcy.

To the contrary, the majority of the shops and real estate of the chain are the property of the corporation and its stable financial condition has allowed it to open several shops over the past three years.

"I can say that we are very well positioned in the market and the economic crisis has neither affected the business nor has it hampered our development," says Papadopoulou. We opened eight shops in 2011, another ten in 2012 and the plan is to open this year six more shops in various parts of the country. Currently, the Group operates 45 "Metro Cash & Carry" shops in Greece and 56 supermarkets with the logo sign of "My Market".

The marketing expert explains that the risk of opening a new shop in times of crisis is measured and that the decisions are based on sound research on the state of the regional market and profile of customers in a specific area.

"The new shops enable us to raise new revenue. We can afford to develop a new project, to promote it and support the launch of promotions."

In every major city of the country, the holding has opened at least one "Metro Cash & Carry" shop which supplies the retailers with goods and materials. "Even if some of our customers terminate their activity, this does not affect the turnover because others start a business or change their activities and we find new customers," says Papadopoulou in relation to the wholesale trade.

As for supermarkets, the market is saturated and the competition is high. Therefore, each chain must build its own image in the minds of consumers and maintain it through the quality of the products and good service.

"Since 2011 we have invested over three million euro per year in lower prices. These promotions are beyond the discounts offered by the suppliers."

Papadopoulou stresses that the companies know and understand the condition of the average consumer and therefore pay more attention to the promotional reduction of prices. Although the supermarkets offer mainly fast moving consumer goods, the company offers discounts more often in comparison with the period before the crisis.

"Maintaining balanced growth is one of the factors that have helped us face the economic crisis without fear today," says the marketing expert, adding that another factor that has played a very important role in the strategic development of the company is the fact that the management has not relied only on aggressive undercuts following the formula "to save during the crisis."

"The company has been building up its public profile for years. You have to win the customer's trust, it is not given. Product quality, service levels and customer focus have played a very important role in this regard. This cannot be achieved overnight. It takes time then you have a ''dowry'' left for harder times."

Mariana Papadopoulou stresses that the food retail industry has its own characteristics and is not affected as much as clothing or the automotive trade. However, the consumers are much more demanding as regards the desired product and severely limited in the ability to make purchases outside the list of the most important commodities.

The consumers very rarely make spontaneous purchases. Their budget is limited and, now more than ever, they are ready to explore the options for the best available price. "That is why the demand for products with the label of the supermarket itself is increasing," says the specialist. The company has developed a special department which is looking for small producers from different parts of the country. They offer the consumer a variety of goods on the shelves and an alternative to the price.

The Greeks are more often ready to turn to yellow and white cheese, salami, sausage or other food or non-food items which are offered under the brand of the shop instead of to goods with the logo sign of a big company. The prices of non-branded goods offered under the brand of the shop are generally lower than the prices of the same goods produced by major manufacturers. The aim is to offer quality products at a price lower than the price of branded goods.
 
This trend has been very successful for the supermarket chain "My Market", which is traditionally associated with the concept of a local shop. Mariana Papadopoulou says that the company started its development in 1976 and its first supermarkets were significantly smaller than the standards currently established; they were distinguished for their neighbourhood character and did not even have a parking lot.

Tags: EconomyCompaniesMy MarketMetroCashCarryGreeceRetail
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