Companies to Watch: Eleftheriades
By John Penhallow
36 Kilkis St., Nicosia, Cypress
+357-22-481900 • www.eleftheriades.com
The island of Cyprus does not often get into the international news bulletins, and when it does it is usually for the wrong reasons. One of the smallest members of the European Union – its economy makes up less than 0.2% of the EU’s GDP - Cyprus suffered a major debt crisis earlier this year which caused a run on the banks as the country teetered on the brink of exclusion from the Euro zone. With capital controls still in force, unemployment around 14% and GDP likely to shrink by somewhere between 9 and 15 percent this year (depending on whose statistics you believe), life in Cyprus is not all roses. As if that weren’t enough, the Northern third of the island has for nearly forty years been under Turkish occupation. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, Nicosia is now the only city in the world divided into two parts by concrete and barbed wire.
Despite all these political and economic problems, some Cypriot businessmen are fighting back and, what’s more, investing. Label and package printer Eleftheriades in the island’s capital, Nicosia, is a family business whose origins go back to 1965. Starting as a package printer, the company diversified into labels in 1997, setting up a sister company which now accounts for one quarter of total business. With 35 employees, Eleftheriades today generates annual sales of $4.7 million.
Eleftheriades is a major player in the Cypriot packaging and label business, where it has to face stiff competition from imported packaging. Its customers are mainly in the food and soft drink sectors. CEO John Eleftheriades admits that the island’s economy has still not recovered to its pre-crisis level, but adds that the food and beverage sectors are proving relatively recession-proof. Soda and water bottle labels are printed on BOPP, OPP or PET films using mostly UV flexo; cartons are offset-printed and for this the company recently invested in a six-color offset press. Finishing equipment includes a digital converter DC 500 from Grafisk Maskinfabrik with laminating, UV varnish and diecutting stations.
John Eleftheriades is proud to tell you that his company exports labels to Belgium, but admits that this is something of a special case. When you live on an island whose nearest neighbors are Greece (debt crisis), Turkey (see above), Syria, Egypt and Libya (no comment) even the most gung-ho salesman has to admit that the export potential is almost non-existent.
Cyprus has no production of labelstock or suitable inks, all of which are imported from Western Europe. It does however, despite its current economic woes, have a well-educated and hard-working population, many of them speaking English and often one or more other foreign languages. Consistent, high quality printing is the main reason for Eleftheriades’ success, and the company is ISO 9001 certified.
The company was an early adopter of digital printing, installing a Xeikon press back in 2003. Last year saw the installation of another Xeikon press, this time a Xeikon 3050 with a 516 mm web width. Since June of this year, this press has been using Xeikon’s new ICE toner, developed to suit heat sensitive substrates such as PE and direct thermal labels. Eleftheriades is running high quality labels in short run lengths, specifically for the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and consumer goods markets. Says John Eleftheriades, “We have been able to produce labels for our customers that we were not able to handle before, because with the new toner we can print on thin film used for soda water labels and flexible packaging. As a result we could generate extra business. The ICE toner will for sure also help us to develop our penetration into the health and beauty market specifically.”
The future for label and package printing on Cyprus will for the foreseeable future be linked to political and economic developments partly (but not entirely) beyond the Cypriot government’s control. Companies such as Eleftheriades Offset Printers are fortunate in having the modern technology and good governance needed to keep going until brighter economic times return to this Island in the Sun.