ECONOMY

Korres’s natural expectations

Ten years after the creation of its initial business core, the Korres company is considered one of the most recognizable in the natural cosmetics sector, showing a significant increase in its financial figures and in its presence in foreign markets. Giorgos Korres, president and CEO of the company, spoke to Kathimerini about the firm’s plans, its course toward the Athens Stock Exchange and its expectations for further international expansion. This year you are completing 10 years of activity in the cosmetics sector. What have been the main events over the course of these years for your firm? The Korres company was set up in 1996 and evolved into an enterprise with its own production installations, considerable market share at pharmacies (we are present at more than 5,000 points) and a remarkable presence abroad. The main development of the company began in 2000, when it crossed the Atlantic, placing its products at stores in New York City. Major moves followed in 2002, with the creation of the flagship store in Chelsea, London, and in 2004 when our cooperation with Sephora started for the chain’s outlets in the USA. However, I believe that 2006 has been the most important year for us, as this is when the operation of our new installation at Inofyta began and we expanded our exporting activity to China and Japan. In 2006 you also decided to list the company on the stock market. What are your expectations regarding that move? Our company has shown considerable growth in recent years and particularly in 2006. Drawing capital will bolster its current growth course, both in Greece and in the particularly demanding market abroad. The funds drawn will be used to further establish the existing Korres Natural Products brand in foreign markets as well as in Greece, along with the creation of a new brand, named Kings & Queens. This new brand of products will be marketed through broader distribution channels domestically and abroad. The firm further aims at investing some of that capital in the research and development of new products, as well as the strengthening of production processes with the installation of new mechanical equipment. In the 2001-2005 period, the company quadrupled its sales, reaching 17 million euros and pretax profits of 2 million euros. What do you expect from the future course of Korres’s financial figures? As we are bound by the existing regulations, I cannot refer to financial estimates while we are in the approval process of our listing on the stock exchange. What I can say, though, is that our sales in 2006 were considerably higher than the year before, when they came to 17.06 million euros, while our profits are expected to record an even greater rise, partly due to the increase in profit margins following the start of operations of the new production plants and the promotion of high added-value products. What percentage of your overall turnover is covered by sales in foreign markets and what is your target for the future? Today Korres products are available in 30 countries at 1,250 points of sale and there are constant moves for supporting our international presence. In 2005 sales abroad doubled compared with 2003 and accounted for 20 percent of all our sales. Although 2006 figures have not been confirmed yet, we estimate that these markets have shown similar growth rates. If we do what we have to do, then sales abroad will overtake those of domestic ones, which is something I hope I can announce to you within a few years. Do you think the cosmetics sector, and particularly the specialized products domain, has scope for growth in the Greek market? Research conducted internationally shows natural cosmetics are gaining the interest of people everywhere and the trust they deserve. In my view this is more than just a trend; it is a certain direction of the market which in essence drives the entire sector toward growth.