a NORTH Yorkshire distributor of home grain mills has reported a rise in sales to Greece which he attributes to emergency planning by Greek citizens as their political leaders struggle to contain the country’s raging debt crisis.
Entrepreneur Nick Szkiler, who owns the Classic & Sportscar Centre in Malton, launched Wondermill UK in summer 2010 after securing European distribution rights from the US parent.
He said the original idea for Wondermill UK was to supply mills to wholegrain enthusiasts who wanted to go a step beyond having their own breadmaker to mill their own flour at home so they could get the benefit of extra vitamins and wheatgerm oil.
But after a few months’ trading he noticed the company was getting orders from Greece and by the end of August, the Mediterranean county accounted for 52 per cent of his export sales, said Mr Szkiler, 56.
He added: “Right now as violence has broken out on the streets of Athens in a country plagued by general strikes, two out of every three orders we receive are coming from Greece.
“Having talked to several Greek customers I begin to understand the reason.
“Greek customers are saying that anything can happen in the coming months.
“If they have a few bags of grain and their own grain mill their family is not going to starve whatever happens.
“They genuinely fear empty the prospect of supermarket shelves or no ability to buy what is available.
“Most customers are buying the hand mill because they have been threatened with disconnection of electricity if they don’t pay the new property tax which is a precondition for the Greek government’s next bailout tranche.”
Mr Szkiler went on: “Clearly, many are being bought for emergency planning.
“As a sign of what the future may hold for other troubled economies, there has been recent increased interest from Spain, Italy and Ireland.”
He claims to have sold £35,000 worth of mills since August 2010.
George Papandreou, the country’s prime minister, has urged European leaders to “act decisively and effectively” to contain the troubles afflicting the eurozone.
“It’s been proven now that the crisis is not a Greek crisis,” he told reporters. “The crisis is a European crisis.”