Intertrade Hellas, the leading private label tissue producer in Greece, has weathered some storms, notably the financial crisis of 2009-11 that brought the Greek economy to its knees. Yannis Delidimos founded the company in 1994 and on top of selling quality paper products bearing its own brand name SERVIN, Intertrade Hellas consolidated its strong presence in the paper converting industry with the purchase of the SOFTEX brand in 2016. There’s also the small matter of inaugurating a new factory in Athens’ northern suburb of Metamorphosi, decked out with state-of-the-art technology, on the agenda. It’s fair to say that the company’s strategy is anything but paper-thin.
“The company was initially founded as a brokerage agent between paper mills and convertors, selling raw materials from the former to the latter,” Yannis says, bursting with energy. “In 2005, I helped transform the company into a converting factory and we’ve been producing quality products ourselves for the last 15 years.”
Yannis explains that the success of his business is largely down to detailed planning, being flexible, and executing a carefully considered business model: “One of the things we did right at the beginning was to read the market before planning our business strategy – then we executed it rigorously. In 2005 we realised there was a significant gap in the Greek market, specifically in the private label market, which was totally unrepresented as the country was importing a significant amount of paper from Italy. The main reason for this gap was that Greek paper mills didn’t have the capacity or organisational structure to satisfy the needs of the big supermarkets. This is where we came in, we recognised the grey area and acted on it.”
Intertrade Hellas’ founder and CEO says he can’t stress the importance of market re- search. Largely thanks to acquired knowledge and insight, in just over a decade the company managed to generate €80 million in turnover. It now exports paper products to 22 countries around the world and supplies big names like Lidl and major Greek supermarkets. “All of this took place during a difficult time for the country, so we knew we were doing something right,” adds Yannis.
“You must be ready to lose before you start to make money. During the first few years we were prepared to part with a significant amount of money because that’s how the industry works,” he says. “More importantly, you must learn how to lose money because there are different ways to lose money. There’s a smart way to lose money and a stupid way to lose money. We expanded our strategy and we adjusted our strategy, and that’s why we’re now in a very strong strategic position in the tissue industry, especially in Southeast Europe.”