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Biotos Plans to Expand the Whole Food Retail Chain Green Post

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

'We would like to open a large specialist organic store with 500-1000 m² of floor space.' This is how the managing director of Biotos, Stamoulis Manginas, explains the strategy of the firm that was founded in 1999. The wholesaler's first shop, with 170 m² of floor space, was opened under the name Green Post in the Kifissias district of Athens in May 2003. The second shop, with 160 m², will follow in December 2005. The plan is that by 2007 another five shops will have been opened, including a very large specialist store that is intended to serve as a centre of excellence.


Picture: Stamoulis Manginas

The core business of the wholesale enterprise consists of supplying around 300 whole food shops and supermarkets with a dozen well known whole food brands from Germany, England and Italy. Berchtesgardener Land, Byodo, Demeter Felderzeugnisse, Green & Blacks and Duchy Originals are just a few of the names that Biotos markets exclusively in Greece. The wholesale range consists of about 600 articles. In the shops, however, around 3,500 items
are listed.


'We started from scratch with capital of only 3,000 Euros,' says Manginas, describing the difficulties in establishing the enterprise. By now, the former lawyer can take a relaxed view of the past few years during which he and his colleague Panos Hatziotis built up their wholesale and retail businesses. 'Panos recognised the fact that some organic farmers in the region round Athens were not able to sell their produce appropriately and he set about helping them,' says Manginas. At the same time his wife, when she tried to buy organic produce, became aware that it was difficult or even impossible to find organic food in the town. 'This is how the idea arose of creating an organic wholesale business supplying fresh food,' he explains. Although they had created a wholesale business and were supplying the mostly very small specialist shops, Manginas and Hatziotis soon realised that there was a lack of sizeable shops. So they had the idea of becoming a part of the retail scene in Athens by creating their own chain of stores.


Whoever wants to open a new business in Greece by no means has an easy ride. Each and every category of stock has to be approved by the municipal authorities. For example, they requested approval for 40 m² for selling meat, and for 12 m² each for bread and milk. Despite some problems, today Manginas is pleased he opted for the sale of fresh meat as the driving force. Some customers travel a long way to buy their fresh organic meat. He gets daily supplies for his 2m long meat counter that displays a dozen beef, pork and chicken products. This must be an important reason why the average spend in his shop is very high at 31 Euros (including VAT). On the other hand, the 100 customers a day could certainly be increased. Green Post regards it as important that customers can push their trolleys comfortably through the store.


For Manginas, further plus points are the availability of enough parking in front of the shop and the long opening hours from 8 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock in the evening on three days a week (including staying open during the two and a half hours lunch break from 3 pm to 5.30 pm). One part-time and six full-time employees keep the shop operating. There are a further 15 employees at the wholesale business (1300 m²) in the Menidi district of Athens. Every day the wholesale business supplies 60 shops. Manginas is expecting a turnover of 2.5 million Euros for 2005, with two-thirds being accounted for by the wholesale enterprise. In his words: ' We are seeing in our wholesale business the biggest annual increases in turnover of about 50 %. The retail business is currently growing by 15 %.'


Green Post sources its products as much as possible in Greece itself. Manginas maintains that his customers are prepared to pay more for home-produced than for imported products. The source of half of all meat and approximately half of fresh green produce is Greece. However, in the case of many other product varieties there are problems, because no Greek firms produce the goods or because there are no raw materials available, as in the case of milk products. In order to create stronger participation in the market, the four own brands, such as Pure Natural and Whole Earth, are to be extended step by step.




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