ATHENS -- Global tobacco giant Philip Morris today announced the creation of a European distribution center in Greece, as part of the expansion of its activities in the indebted country.
"Following the deal we signed in February, we will now transform our warehouses in Agrinio [in central-western Greece] into a distribution center of Philip Morris International for all of Europe," said Nikos Theophilopoulos, the company's managing director in Greece.
In late February, Philip Morris (IW 500/15) committed to buying half of the country's tobacco production for the next three years.
Agrinio, a former prominent tobacco-producing region, has been in decline in recent years.
"For Philip Morris, Greece is a country of strategic importance regarding oriental tobacco," Theophilopoulos said after a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Agricultural Development Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris.
"Over the past decade our investments [in Greece] have exceeded 600 million euros," Theophilopoulos said.
Samaras hailed the move as an "important and symbolic investment" in the crisis-hit country.
Since the beginning of the debt crisis in 2010, Greece’s economy has been struggling to bounce back, suffering from heavy recession and a staggering 27% unemployment rate.
Philip Morris’ sales account for 16% of the revenue generated by the international tobacco industry. Seven of its brands are among the 15 most popular in the world, including top-selling Marlboro.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013