Making a significant contribution to Greece’s social scene by introducing a range of new beer products, supporting local cultural events and suppliers, as well as boosting the nation’s challenged economy is something Athenian Brewery is exceptionally proud of.
Today, Athenian Brewery is the country’s largest producer and distributor of beer, with a varied portfolio of 28 alcoholic and non-alcoholic products. However, back when it was established in 1963, beer consumption in Greece was very low. Developing the beer market in Greece by looking forward and listening to the expectations of consumers has been important to Athenian Brewery’s success story, and its ability to create new, affordable, and enjoyable products.
Athenian Brewery is now a member of global giant Heineken, employs around 900 people, has three beer factories, two malteries, a water plant, and exports its products to 30 countries.
The company has also won a raft of independent business awards acknowledging that it is a great place to work, that the business has achieved growth despite the economic crisis, its positive impact on national business leadership, and its commitment to corporate responsibility.
The CEO Magazine spoke to Zooullis Mina, MD and Chairman, about some of the challenges faced by the company, how it works with its suppliers, and the ways it promotes responsible drinking while growing the market for beer in Greece.
Zooullis Mina on the developing beer culture in Greece
“Beer is consumed in a very specific way in Greece, usually or mainly around an eating occasion. We are still in the process of developing a beer culture here. If you look at other European countries, we are very low down on the list in the per capita consumption of beer.”
On what this means for business and the bigger picture
“We have been a significant part of growth in Greece, not only of the beer market, but we have also certainly helped contribute to the growth of the local economy through our sourcing. We now source 100% of our barley locally, and the crowns, as well as the labels, are 100% locally sourced too. We now have more than 95% of our raw material base sourced in Greece.”
On the strong relationships between Athenian Brewery, its customers, and suppliers
“Calling our customers, especially our wholesalers and suppliers, ‘partners’ is exactly the right way to describe the way we operate. Very often, we’ll provide training for them and we share our experiences with them. It is a continual learning process, because I think the way to help our business is to help them improve their businesses as well.”
On promoting responsible drinking while developing the market
“We actively promote responsible drinking. All of our bottles communicate to consumers the need to drink responsibly. We also run campaigns on a regular basis. Our ‘Hero’ campaign was broadcast internationally and basically, it says is that it’s not cool to drink and you actively see people turning away a beer. It’s incredibly provocative, but I think it is the right thing to do, so we promote it very actively.”
On further supporting the community
We support a lot of the cultural events here. In particular, we really support the cleaning of beaches. Recently, we’ve been focusing on local start-ups, because we believe that will reduce the impact of the economic crisis in Greece on the younger generation. We are the main sponsor of an initiative of the Dutch embassy called Orange Grove. It is a start-up incubator assisting about 80 start-ups at any one given point in time. We provide a workspace, we provide mentoring, we connect them to people in the society here, and some of them have progressed very well.