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Greece’s Kou-Kou Files for Protection From Creditors, CEO Says

Kou-Kou SA, Greece’s second-biggest toy and baby-products retailer, filed for protection from creditors as it seeks to reorganize amid falling sales, Chief Executive Officer Othonas Pylarinos said.

“This is to convince our creditors that we have a strategy to continue operations,” Pylarinos said in a telephone interview today. “This isn’t a decision to shut down.”

The company, based in Thessaloniki, started discussions with the majority of its lenders after it saw sales drop about 30 percent in December, according to Pylarinos, who founded Kou-Kou 22 years ago. “We have their support,” he said.

Fourth-quarter sales fell 20 percent to 25 percent and 2011 is likely to be “even harder,” he said. People’s spending power has been hurt by government austerity measures, including cuts in salaries and holiday bonuses agreed in exchange for a bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Kou-Kou operates 42 stores, mainly in northern Greece, the region with the highest number of unemployed in the country. Pylarinos said the jobs of the 300 employees are “guaranteed.”

The unlisted company, which competes with Jumbo SA, will seek shareholders’ approval for a 4 million-euro ($5.4 million) share-capital increase, Pylarinos said.

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