The KEAN Sisters from the Cyprus’ Fruit Empire

The 70-year-old company is the island\'s leader in the production and export of natural juices

The KEAN Sisters from the Cyprus’ Fruit Empire
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Автор: Branislava Bobanats

When Evi Papadopoulou and Kikoula Kotsapas stood next to each other with the statuettes handed to them by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the hall filled with representatives of the political and business circles in Cyprus burst into applause. The salute for the two winners of the 2017 Business Leader in Industry grand award in Cyprus was also a high assessment for their enormous personal contribution to the success of the world's largest and most famous producer of natural fruit juices and soft drinks in the country - KEAN, as well as recognition of its role in the development of the Cypriot industry. With its 70-year history, KEAN is an emblematic part of it.

The two business ladies not only represent the same company, they are also its senior managers. Moreover, they are sisters - daughters of KEAN's founder - Takis Christodoulou.

The KEAN sisters, as Evi Papadopoulou and Kikoula Kotsapas are known, completed their education abroad (UK and Switzerland) and have been managing the family business for more than four decades now. Today, Kikoula Kotsapas is the President of the KEAN Group of Companies and a member of the board of directors of the Takis Christodoulou LTD holding. Evi Papadopoulou is the Marketing Director of KEAN, President of the parent company Takis Christodoulou LTD and a member of the board of directors of KEAN SOFT DRINKS LTD.

There is not a single home in Cyprus without at least one product of the KEAN brand, and that's not surprising with a portfolio of nearly 80 products. The company, now a holding, produces a variety of nectars, fruit drinks, soft drinks, cold tea, carbonated beverages and water, fruit milks.

 

The Family Business History

 

that the sisters continued began in 1949. The young chemist Takis Christodoulou, having knowledge and interest in the processing of fruits, founded KEA - a cooperative for the production of spirit drinks, essential oils, aromas and concentrates of fresh citrus fruits and their application in perfumes and beverages. His purpose was to make the most out of the fruits that Cyprus has in abundance - lemons, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines. Gradually, the company grew and won the market by offering juices from local fruits against the competition of imported international beverage brands. In 1951, the company was renamed to KEAN SOFT DRINKS LTD and marked the new stage of its development with the bottling of the first KEAΝ Orangeade with high content of orange juice. Five years later, it built its emblematic factory near the sea, in the coastal city of Limassol, stretching over an area of ​​40 acres, where it continues to work to this day.

KEAN is one of the Cypriot companies that had introduced the most innovations to the local industry. In 1978, it became the first local company that started producing soft drinks in metal cans. Only three years later, it was the first in Cyprus to introduce Tetra Pak packaging for fruit juices. In 1995, with an innovative technology, the company released on the market pasteurized soft drinks in boxes without added colouring and preservatives. In the last three years, KEAN has offered new flavours to its consumers by developing a series of soft drinks with stevia and 0% sugar. The product assortment was enriched with a new fruit yoghurt - KEANITA.

For the success of the fruit company "operate" production lines, equipped with the most modern technologies, which are constantly updated and modernized to process

 

20,000 Tons of Citrus Fruits

 

into high-quality beverages. What is more, the company works only with fresh Cypriot fruits that are harvested directly from the orchards of its local producers, based on long-term business relationships with them. Thus, for its seven decades on the market, KEAN has provided valuable assistance and support to rural entrepreneurship in Cyprus and has played a key role for the development of agriculture, the business community on the island unanimously agrees.

In recent years, however, the company faces a serious challenge - the production of citrus fruits in Cyprus is steadily decreasing, Evi Papadopoulou comments. According to her, the situation is getting worse due to the removal of thousands of trees to provide space for various investment projects, such as golf courses, for example, and because the younger generation has no desire to be involved in this area of ​​agriculture that made Cyprus famous all around the world. KEAN and other producers in the sector insist that the government develops a long-term strategy for cultivation of citrus fruits to help the industry regain its competitiveness. 

The rising raw material prices and increasing costs have put enormous pressure for an increase in the prices of the KEAN products, Kikoula Kotsapas says. However, the company maintains stable prices because it is convinced that its products must remain accessible to all people.

KEAN is also one of Cyprus' most important exporters. Its production is sold in nearly 50 countries across five continents - in the European Union, Africa, the United States, and Australia. Asia is among its new markets, with almost 50% of the KEAN-produced 1-liter juice packages going east, mainly in China. The exports of juices takes the 6th place in the ranking of Cypriot exports, accounting for nearly 4% of the total export of the country.

For the two business ladies who won the industry leadership award, the business leadership is primarily a vision. "A good leader has the qualities, abilities, and the gift to make others follow them. The leader leads and inspires others with a vision and motivation," Kikoula Kotsapas believes. For Evi Papadopoulou, the business leader is "a visionary who formulates a strategy, who is not afraid to take risks, and who has the ability to inspire confidence and enthusiasm in their colleagues. The strong leader sees opportunities in the ever-changing environment and acts as a compass for achieving the desired goals."
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