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Covid-19 Cripples Greece’s Food and Drink Industry

Antiparos beach house

Greece’s food and drink operations are still trying to recover from Covid-19, which has led to a 50 percent decline in turnover in the 2020-2021 period and brought more businesses closer to the risk of closure.

In an interview to Greek daily Naftemporiki, Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen, and Merchants (GSEVEE) President Giorgos Kavvathas said restauranters are expecting a 70 percent drop in the first half of January as a result of measures taken to address the onset of Omicron.

Food and beverage (F&B) providers say they are faced with bankruptcy after two years of lockdowns and restrictions which have led to accumulated losses.

Kavvathas said that over the two-year 2020-2021 period, total losses for the industry are estimated at around 50 percent. Before Covid-19, turnover for restaurant operations was at approximately 6.5 billion euros. This is now down to about 3 billion euros, he said. 

“Lost turnover will never be recouped. Businesses will need at least a year after the pandemic to turn viable. The debts accumulated are great. The challenge is great, and already four in 10 companies are expressing uncertainty and concern about the possibility of maintaining the operation of their businesses this year,” he said.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

According to Kavvathas, over the Christmas-New Year period, consumption dropped by 40 percent. He cites the effect of fear created by Covid-19 and the fast-spreading Omicron variant on consumer behavior as well as slashed incomes which will make the upcoming period “very difficult for the sector”, he said.

Restauranters told Naftemporiki that even healthy operations will need at least of year of government support after Covid subsides to stand on their own two feet.

Commenting on the new measures announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to help households and businesses cope with skyrocketing energy prices, Kavvathas said they were welcome but added that small and medium-sized operations already impacted by the pandemic and left with zero cash reserves need additional support.

Among others, industry representatives have requested additional relief such as rent subsidies, repayable advances settlements, reduced VAT to 6 percent, and the option to place staff on furlough.

Earlier this year, the government subsidized food and drink operations with 330 million euros to assist recovery after Covid-19. Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis has said extra measures are on the table for enterprises affected by the new restrictions but will be considered after all data is examined.

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