site.btaUPDATED Greek Businesses Like Bulgaria's Low Tax Rate, but Struggle with Labour Shortage
The Greek companies operating in Bulgaria are satisfied with the relatively low tax rates and the favourable environment for their investments, but they face increasing difficulties in finding employees, two representatives of the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria (HBCB) - Board Member Theodoros Polydoros and Executive Director Minko Gerdzhikov - told BTA at the Thessaloniki International Fair.
Polydoros has been in Bulgaria since 2006 and is the CEO of the rating and consulting company ICAP CRIF, one of the largest companies with Greek capital operating in Bulgaria. He said that the reason he is Bulgaria is the great business potential, both in general and in his field.
He stressed that Bulgaria has seen great development and anticipated that this development will continue in the future. Bulgaria "is a business-friendly country and I can say that it is probably even more welcoming to Greek companies," Polydoros said.
He pointed out that along Bulgaria’s two main advantages, related to the low tax rates, which is a significant motive, and the qualified employees that can be found in the country, Bulgaria is very business-friendly and in his opinion, as far as Greek companies are concerned, it is a natural extension in business terms for Greek companies.
Asked whether the profile of Greek companies in Bulgaria has changed in recent years, Polydoros says: "The truth is that there have been some large withdrawals of Greek investments from Bulgaria. The big change occurred during the crisis in Greece in the banking sector. Fifteen years ago, when I first came to Bulgaria, there were five Greek banks, now there is only one. Some large Greek companies such as Globul have left the country, the most recent example being Chipita, but the number of medium-sized Greek companies operating in the country has increased. There are currently more than 20,000 Greek companies registered in the Commercial Register in Bulgaria, which, according to 2022 data, have a turnover of around EUR 6 billion and employ around 55,000 employees. Therefore, the Greek business presence in Bulgaria is permanently strong, increasing mainly with medium-sized companies, which I think to a certain extent compensates for this gap created by some large companies that have withdrawn."
Polydoros explained that HBCB's participation at the Thessaloniki Fair is at the invitation of the Bulgarian Economy and Industry Ministry and aims to support both the Greek companies interested in developing their activities in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian companies that want to establish themselves on the Greek market.
HBCB Executive Director Minko Gerdzhikov recalled that the organization of Greek business in Bulgaria has existed since 2005 and "for these 18 years has become one of the most serious business chambers in Bulgaria", assisting Greek companies in overcoming problems of different nature, in establishing contacts with Bulgarian partners, providing them with legal and advertising services, organizing meetings of Greek business with figures from Bulgarian and Greek political life, etc.
"Greek business is attracted [to Bulgaria] firstly by the more favourable tax rates, secondly by the proximity, thirdly by the friendly environment, and fourthly by Bulgaria's membership in the European Union," Gerdzhikov said. Regarding the difficulties faced by the members of the HBCB, he said that "the biggest problem is the lack of workforce, as all Greek investors are eager to increase their production, however the lack of workers seriously hinders this process. The second problem that was creating difficulties was the long time there was no regular government and many issues that should have been solved at government level were postponed. But, fortunately, this problem has now been solved and we are very grateful that the Economy Ministry has included us in the Bulgarian stand at the Thessaloniki Fair so that we can also show our interested Greek friends what a good place Bulgaria is for Greek investments."