Cyprus Pharmaceutical Organization (CPO) has a long history of being a leading importer, distributor, and exclusive agent for a wide portfolio of products in the health, beauty, and personal care sectors. The business was founded in 1928 as a family-owned company, operating under the name C.A. Papaellinas & Co, and was succeeded by CPO in 1952. It has grown to become one of the strongest commercial entities in Cyprus and employs 350 staff. It also has a sister organisation in Greece, which has more than 100 employees.

Managing director, Paris Papaellinas, is the son of the founder, Costas A. Papaellinas and today, he co-owns the business with his brother Thanos. Paris’s first official introduction to the company was after he had finished his studies abroad in Beirut, California, and France.

“I worked for a year or two with my older brother who was the CEO of our business in Greece, and then I urgently returned to Cyprus because we had this great idea, back in 1980, to start a NIVEA local production factory in Cyprus,” Paris recalls.

“That was my first project and it ended up being a very good idea because, at that time, the import duties in Cyprus on cosmetics were 133 per cent. If you wanted to grow brands like NIVEA and Old Spice—which were the two product lines that we started producing locally—you had to have a local assembly and production so that you could avoid all the import duties.

“That factory went strongly for 23 years until Cyprus joined the European Union and import duties were abolished. So during that time, in the 90s, we obtained an export licence from the NIVEA headquarters to export some of our products to Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. That was my first taste of the professional business, back then.”