Karelia Tobacco S.A.
The company’s history began in 1888 when the first generation of the family Karelia founded a small tobacco company in Kalamata that sold tobacco in paper pouches to local customers.
Since the early 90’s, KARELIA has evolved from a Greek company to an international group, employing 465 people and benefiting from a strong distribution network for the promotion and development of brands in every corner of the world.
In 1991 the company adopted its current name, KARELIA Tobacco Industry SA and, in 1994, it founded a business office in Sofia, Bulgaria. A year later the company acquired MERIDIAN SA, which is engaged in the supply of ships with Duty Free products. In 2000, KARELIA ceased its cooperation with JAPAN TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL, intending to focus on the development of its proprietary brands.
In 2003 the company established a subsidiary in the United Kingdom, KARELIA TOBACCO COMPANY (UK) Ltd, in order to distribute its products throughout the country.
In 2007 the office in Bulgaria was upgraded to an importing trading company named KARELIA BULGARIA EOOD. After the entry of Bulgaria into the EU, the KARELIA brands fully responded to the challenges and excelled in consumer preferences in the country with the operation of the new, importing trading company KARELIA BULGARIA EOOD. The results so far are very positive, giving the company a high market share of around 10%.
In 2008, Karelia founded a subsidiary in Turkey, KARELIA TUTUN VE TICARET A.S., aiming to strengthen its competitive position among the duty free operators in the country, but also to develop its presence in the neighboring markets of Central Asia and the Middle East, where there are significant growth opportunities.
That same year, KARELIA acquired the cigar brand BACKWOODS from ALTADIS SA, especially for the Greek market and the duty-free shops of the country.
Today KARELIA SA is the largest cigarette manufacturer and the leading exporter of cigarettes in Greece, and one of the fastest growing independent tobacco companies in the world. The brands are distributed through a network covering 45,000 outlets; it has a presence in over 70 countries around the world, Western and Eastern Europe, North and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East, while 77% of total sales come from abroad.
The total volume sales in Greece in 2010 was 2.5 billion cigarettes, while the export sector saw a significant increase of 40% in the EU, with total exports standing at 8.85 billion cigarettes. Special mention deserves Bulgaria, where KARELIA products hold the top position among imported brands in the country, with a market share that reached the record level of 15.65%.
The 2010 consolidated net sales (excluding Excise) were increased to 142.5 million euros while earnings after taxes and minority interests have risen by 44.7% to 23.6 million euros.
In the first quarter of 2011 the net turnover of the listed company amounted to 33.6 million euros and the net profit during the same period amounted to 6.6 million euros.
Victoria C. Karelia, Chairman of the Board: “Our highest priority for 2011 is to strengthen the position and our profitability in those markets where we already operate. In addition, we will stick to our ambitious growth strategy, aiming at an even greater presence and expansion of our product range into new markets, focusing on the developing categories of super slims and tobacco for rolling cigarettes, and on launching new brands.
We believe in the strength of our brands. These are the foundations on which we have built a profitable and long term business with substantial profits for our shareholders. Maintaining a strong product range, combined with prudent management, innovation, investment and, of course, our strong financial position, are the main axes on which we will move in the coming years”.