Insight: European firms plan for Greek unrest and euro exit

Mon May 28, 2012 7:10am EDT
 
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By David Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - British electrical retailer Dixons DXNS.L 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.

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.

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.

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 (MEOG.DE: Quote) and with a number of local players which James says may struggled to survive in a crisis.   Continued...