July 7, 2016
On July 1st the Athens Court of First Instance handed a temporary reprieve to supermarket operator Marinopoulos in the face of bankruptcy claims by its creditors. The retail giant won temporary protection from bankruptcy until September 21st, when the court will consider its petition for a reorganisation process. The privately owned group, which employs more than 12,500 people and runs more than 800 stores, had sought protection from creditors to allow for a restructuring of its business. The decline and fall of the retail giant mirrors the travails of the Greek economy since 2010. If Marinopoulos goes under it is likely to worsen the country's already dire economic plight.
The Marinopoulos family's first foray into business was in the form of a pharmacy, back in 1893, the year that the then prime minister, Charilaos Trikoupis, famously declared Greece bankrupt. The pharmaceutical business developed independently and the family started its first supermarket much later, in 1962—another landmark year for Greece, as its association agreement with the EU came into force. In 1999 the family entered into a partnership with a French multinational retailer, Carrefour, and the business grew to the extent that Marinopoulos became a leading retailer. The partnership ended on the eve of Greece's second general election in 2012, when Carrefour pulled out, although it sanctioned continuing use of the brand. By 2015 Carrefour had slipped into second place behind Belgium's Delhaize in terms of market share, but still had a sizeable 6.3% share of the Greek retail market.