Greek business sentiment is on the decline as the coronavirus pandemic continues, with the majority of companies expecting to return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2022, according to the HSBC Navigator annual survey released on Tuesday.
More specifically, 28 percent of Greek firms are more optimistic about their business growth than a year ago, down from 65 percent in 2019 – a significantly steeper decline than globally and in Europe.
Only 9 percent of Greek firms are more profitable than they were before the Covid-19 outbreak with 34 percent expecting to return to pre-Covid profitability by the end of 2021; 32 percent expecting it will take until the end of 2022 and 11 percent until the end of 2023.
Despite the health crisis, 63 percent of Greek companies said they intend to boost investment in the next year with a focus on marketing, cash flow and capital management, and customer experience.
Though 81 percent of Greek businesses feel that cross-border trade has become more difficult, their commitment to pursuing international opportunities is strong with 71 percent of businesses in Greece positive about international trade over the next two years.
Sustainability appears to be gaining momentum with 94 percent of Greek firms seeing multiple opportunities arise for their business from improving their environmental and ethical sustainability. A total of 75 percent expect sales to grow over the next year from a greater focus on sustainability.
Greek companies active abroad uplifted their proportion of international trade, with around one-third having more than 50 percent of their business from abroad.
Europe remains the most important trading block for Greece with more than 84 percent of the country’s firms currently trading with European markets, followed by North America (28 percent). Over the next three to five years, Europe is likely to remain their most important trading region.
The study, conducted on 10,000 companies in 39 countries and territories, including Greece, comes on the back of announcements of widespread access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Overall, the survey found that while in 2019 Greek companies were the most optimistic in Europe on their future growth, in 2020 business outlook is more pessimistic and gloomier than seen globally and in Europe.
This year, nine in 10 Greek businesses were concerned about their supply chain and increasing costs (49 percent), financial resources / time spent on managing the supply chain (31 percent), and suppliers being too distant from target customers or their business (31 percent).
In regard to top supply chain priorities in 2021, respondents said increasing the use of technology (72 percent in Greece compared to 48 percent globally), as well as tightening specifications/contracts (53 percent vs 38 percent).
“Sentiment among Greek businesses has significantly deteriorated due to the Covid outbreak, but some of the findings are encouraging for the post-pandemic recovery,” said Peter Yeates, CEO of HSBC Greece.
“Greek businesses are still willing to invest in growth, are positive on their international trade outlook and are looking to tap into international opportunities,” he added.