Greek Retailers Stocking Up On Shutters In Case Of Riots, Alcohol Inventories Plunge
While America may be experiencing the occasional zombie apocalypse breakout, probably due to the absence of easily available edible iPads, Greek retailers are preparing for the retail version. "British electrical retailer Dixons has spent the last few weeks stockpiling security shutters to protect its nearly 100 stores across Greece in case of riot. The planning, says Dixons chief Sebastian James, may look alarmist but it's good to be prepared." Why Dixons? "Europe's No 2 electrical retailer Dixons owns Greece's market leading but loss-making Kotsovolos chain, which has a 25-percent market share selling iPads and laptops as well as washing machines, televisions and air conditioning units." There we go: Bill Dudley's edible iPads. The question is what happens when this easily digestable piece of plastic is thoroughly looted after local rioters dispense with the "shutters" supposedly protecting their wares. What will be on the menu next? Sadly not booze: "Diageo, the world's biggest spirits group and the name behind Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, has reacted by slashing its marketing spend in Greece, reducing stock levels and pulling cash quickly out of the country after it saw its Greek sales halve in the last three years to less than 100 million pounds." So: no food, no booze, no cheap 99 cent iPad aps: this is the way the world's most miserable monetary experiment ends.
Who else is preparing for a peak in rioting, and how?
Company bosses around Europe agree. As the financial crisis in Greece worsens, companies are getting ready for everything from social unrest to a complete meltdown of the financial system.
Those preparations include sweeping cash out of Greece every night, cutting debts, weeding out badly paying customers and readying for a switch to a new Greek drachma if the country is forced to abandon the euro.
"Most companies are getting ready and preparing for a Greek exit and have looked at cash, treasury and currency issues," said Roger Bayly, a partner at advisory and accountancy firm KPMG.
Chief Executive James says the company has contingency plans to shutter up its 69 wholly owned and 29 franchised Greek stores and close them in the short term to protect against any threat of civil unrest and prepare for a switch to a new drachma.
Greece accounts for just over 3 percent of Dixon's annual sales of around 8.2 billion pounds. The company competes with Europe's No 1 electrical chain Metro and with a number of local players which James says may struggled to survive in a crisis.
"We know it would put paid to quite a lot of our competitors and give us an opportunity to get more of a market share. So we are ready and we would be very interested to see how it would turn out," said James.
Dixons should know what is the rioter's pick du jour:
Dixons, using its experience of dealing with riots in London and other British cities last summer - big flat-screen televisions were the looters' booty of choice - has ordered enough shutters to protect its stores and is working with the Greek police and security groups.
The group's sales dipped 9 percent in Italy, Greece and Turkey in the year to late April. The group does not split out Greek sales, but these three nations make up around 7 percent of the group's annual sales.
The 6 Greek Cs:
"Businesses need to build in protection by checking payment terms, sweeping cash out of subsidiaries and into other currencies and check on the vulnerability of suppliers," said Martin O'Donovan, ACT's deputy policy and technical director.
KPMG's Bayly advises his clients to check the six Cs when preparing for a possible Greek euro exit: cash, contracts, continuity, counterparties, control and commercial. He believes that automotive companies, tour operators and pharmaceutical groups would see the biggest immediate disruption from an early euro exit by Greece.
He argues most companies are well prepared on cash issues and contracts with suppliers, but less so on how they would cope with business continuity in the immediate aftermath of a euro exit.
The worst news? No more booze:
Diageo, the world's biggest spirits group and the name behind Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, has reacted by slashing its marketing spend in Greece, reducing stock levels and pulling cash quickly out of the country after it saw its Greek sales halve in the last three years to less than 100 million pounds.
Diageo has weekly meetings aimed at cutting its exposure to Greece, protecting remaining sales by bolstering its own in-house distribution network, halting supplies to some small bars and focusing on high-end hotels and clubs.
Diageo's Chief Marketing Officer Andy Fennell says its Greek sales are still falling. The once big Johnnie Walker market has already shrunk and now accounts for less than one percent of the group's 10 billion pound annual turnover.
"There could be a marked impact on Greece but the big question is what happens elsewhere across the eurozone," Fennell said with an eye on Diageo's bigger troubled markets inside the eurozone such as Spain and Ireland.
The best news: new drachma will be well stocked and easily available:
De La Rue, which as the world's biggest commercial banknote printer produces more than 150 currencies, has made no comment. Analysts say Greece could have to turn to outside printers because of the sheer quantity of banknotes needed.
Of course, if after reading this any Greeks are still not utterly terrified of what their vote for Syriza would bring (nothing but Keynesian fire and brimstone), very soon precogs will be released to arrest any and all who dare to vote for ending a disastrous monetary experiment which will eventually unleash what happened in Miami over the weekend, worldwide.